The death toll from Nepal’s second major earthquake in less than three weeks climbed Friday to 117, according to Nepal’s Home Ministry.
As rescue and relief teams tried to reach remote areas near the epicenter of Tuesday’s magnitude-7.3 quake, the United Nations called on the international community to do more to help the stricken nation.
The wreckage of a U.S. military helicopter that went missing Tuesday evening in the region as it took part in relief efforts for the first quake was spotted Friday on a mountainside after intensive searches from the air and on foot.
Three bodies have been found with the wreckage, Nepal’s defense secretary said. The aircraft had six U.S. Marines and two Nepali service members aboard.
As the grim rescue and recovery efforts continue, Nepal’s Home Ministry said Friday that the total number of fatalities in Nepal had reached 8,460 since the first magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck on April 25. A total of 6,271 people are still receiving treatment for their injuries, 1,700 of them after Tuesday’s quake.
Dozens of people have been pulled alive from rubble, officials said.
Another 17 people were reported dead from Tuesday’s quake in India, and one person in China.
Nepal was already struggling to deal with the devastating earthquake that struck the Himalayan nation on April 25, killing more than 8,000 people and flattening entire villages.
So far, only 14% of the humanitarian aid sought by the United Nations for the relief effort in Nepal has been met, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. That means only $59 million has been committed, of the $423 million requested.
“We are not out of the emergency situation yet,” said Leszek Barczak, public information officer for the OCHA.
“Some 500,000 to 600,000 families have lost their homes in the two earthquakes. Shelter is the minimum for the people to get on with their lives.”
‘The land has cracked open’
This week’s quake brought buildings damaged by the earlier disaster crashing to the ground and released a new surge of panic among shell-shocked Nepalis.
The epicenter was in a rugged area of the district of Dolakha, east of the capital, Kathmandu.
“The land has cracked open in many places, many people don’t even have a spot to put their tents,” said Krishna Siwakoti, a farmer who lives near the epicenter.
“The situation is dire. We are isolated,” he told CNN, saying the quake had set off landslides “all around us.”
Heaping destruction upon devastation
Tuesday’s quake struck at the same depth as the April temblor, but it was several times weaker and centered roughly 140 kilometers (87 miles) farther east.
It still managed to wreak fresh havoc in already badly damaged areas.
In Sindupalchowk, a poor district that suffered the heaviest human toll in the April disaster, it set off new landslides. Anil Thapa, a journalist there, reported that multiple houses had fallen.
In Dolakha, Siwakoti said that the April quake brought down about half the 1,400 houses in his area. And then, Tuesday’s temblor flattened most of the rest, leaving just 5% of the houses habitable, he said.
Victims fear more quakes, sleep outside
Officials said they were still trying to reach some rural areas of Sindupalchowk and Dolakha where they feared the destruction could be severe.
In Kathmandu, where temples and apartment buildings collapsed in April, the new quake caused more damage to more structures and sent many terrified residents flooding into the streets.
Once again, encampments of tents sprung up in open areas around the city as people opted to sleep outside rather than risk more tremors from continuing aftershocks. Others, their homes destroyed, had no choice.