UK

Nepal earthquake: DEC launches UK charities appeal

Man walks through rubble of houses damaged by the earthquake in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu on 28 April 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The 7.8-magnitude quake struck on Saturday

Leading UK aid agencies have launched a TV appeal for donations to help the victims of the Nepal earthquake.

It was presented by actress Joanna Lumley, who said the Nepalese people faced a "frightening situation" and "need our help".

The Queen and Prince of Wales have made separate undisclosed personal donations to the appeal and sent messages of support to Nepal.

An RAF plane carrying aid supplies and Army troops is on its way to Nepal.

'Appalling loss'

Nepal has declared three days of national mourning for the victims of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. Officials say the death toll has now passed 5,000, but could reach 10,000, and at least 8,000 were injured.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Thousands of survivors are living in makeshift camps

Among the dead are 18 climbers who were at Mount Everest base camp when it was hit by an avalanche triggered by the quake.

The Foreign Office says it is is investigating reports a Briton living overseas was killed in the earthquake.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said at least 500 Britons had been accounted for but staff were contacting tour operators and hospitals to trace others.

Mr Hammond said the Foreign Office had estimated there were between 500 to 1,000 British nationals in Nepal but there was "no single co-ordinated list".

Officials had assisted more than 250 British nationals and 583 "either have left the country or are not in the country or are accounted for and safe in the country", he said.

The BBC is aware of about 30 British or Irish families who are still waiting to hear from relatives.

'Heartbreaking'

The televised appeal was launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation which brings together 13 UK aid charities to deal with international crises. Ms Lumley filmed appeals aired on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky. A website and donation line was launched earlier.

On the BBC, Ms Lumley said it was "heartbreaking to see the devastation of this beautiful mountainous region".

Image caption Joanna Lumley said rebuilding lives will take years

She said staff from the charities that make up DEC members were already in Nepal but more lifesaving help was needed.

"Nepal is a very poor country. Rebuilding lives in these communities will take years but we need to act now," she said.

Ms Lumley has previously campaigned on behalf of the Nepalese Gurkhas, a British army brigade which dates back to 1815. Its soldiers are among those on the UK aid flight which left RAF Brize Norton on Monday night.

The UK government has promised to match the first £5m of public donations to the DEC appeal.

Downing Street has already given £5m to help people affected by the earthquake. It said it had released £3m to address immediate needs and that £2m would be given to the Red Cross.

A team of more than 60 search and rescue responders and medical experts deployed by the Department for International Development are in Nepal.

In a message sent to Nepal's president, the Queen said she was "shocked to hear of the appalling loss of life and injuries". She visited the country in 1961 and 1986.

Prince Charles also sent words of sympathy to the nation where he has made three official visits in 1975, 1980 and in 1998.

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