Four more people were rescued from underneath rubble more than a week after the devastating earthquake in Nepal killed more than 7,200 people, as more international forces, including U.S. Marines, arrive in the country to help with aid efforts.
But, citizens are riling officials with criticism over aid response, even as traditionalists say they have recovered the country’s reverred “Living Goddess” from the ruins “unscathed.”
Police say a 101-year-old man was found about 80 kilometers northwest of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. Rescue workers earlier reported three other survivors were pulled from the debris northeast of Kathmandu.
U.S. military aircraft, including four tilt-rotor Ospreys, heavy equipment and air traffic controllers, arrived in Nepal late on Sunday, hoping to give relief operations a much-needed shot in the arm and reach more difficult areas that have received little aid since the April 25 quake.
The U.S. will help manage the growing piles of relief supplies clogging Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu, which is struggling to distribute the aid arriving from around the world since the 7.8-magnitude quake.
The U.S. forces will “have multiple aims. They’ll be delivering relief supplies, they might do some rescues, they’ll also do assessments,” U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Peter Bodde told the French news agency AFP.
“They’re going to make an immediate difference,” U.S. Brigadier General Paul Kennedy added.
“We’ve got relief supplies, especially shelter. Most people don’t understand that shelter is the most pressing need,” Kennedy said. “So we’re going to take those things out starting tomorrow [Monday] morning. So for the people that have been affected by this earthquake, it’s going to make an immediate impact on their lives.”
Suraya Prasad Silwal, the home ministry secretary, said the U.S. aircraft would also airlift victims out of remote areas that suffered some of the worst devastation following the quake.
The United Nations also said it is looking at a wider array of options for getting supplies to people in the most remote areas, including transporting provisions on the ground through India.
“We are still having problems getting things to people,” said Orla Fagan, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “There are people in very, very remote mountain villages.”
But officials said nine days after the quake, hopes of finding more survivors are fast fading and the death toll could climb “much higher” than the current. Thousands of people are still missing.
The World Food Program vowed to expand efforts to get help to those in need.