UK

Nepal earthquake: Stranded Britons rescued

Child walking past rubble Image copyright AP
Image caption Around 24,000 people are living in makeshift camps

Eight Britons stranded in a monastery in Nepal have been rescued - a week after the devastating earthquake.

They were airlifted from a religious retreat, in a remote mountainside area of the country, by a team of experts using a chartered helicopter.

An RAF C-17 aircraft, which had taken aid to Nepal, separately flew another seven Britons out of the country.

A UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) public appeal for donations has so far raised more than £33m.

And the UK government has committed £17.5m in humanitarian aid to date, making it the largest international donor.

The money will be used to help an estimated eight million people in need.

'Quick thinking'

The monastery rescue was carried out by staff from a Department for International Development (Dfid) emergency team.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the eight British nationals had been saved from "what could have been a life or death situation".

She said the RAF C-17 aircraft and a commercial transport had also delivered more than 1,900 five-litre water purification jerrycans and more than 2,500 shelter kits.

"These latest aid flights have delivered much-needed shelter and water treatment equipment into Kathmandu. These are vital to stop disease from spreading and to prevent an even bigger health crisis from emerging," Ms Greening added.

It comes as the death toll has risen to over 6,600 and the Nepalese authorities have ruled out finding more survivors.

They said more than 14,000 people had been injured in the 7.9-magnitude quake on 25 April.

Rose Caldwell, executive director of the charity Concern Worldwide - which is part of DEC - told the BBC the relief effort was a "huge challenge" since three million were in need of food aid and 130,000 houses had been destroyed.

She said: "Before the earthquake happened it was estimated that a third of the population lived four hours from a main road. This has increased dramatically.

"We have to transport bulky materials, shelter, food and drinking water."

Nepal earthquake relief

$415 million

needed for humanitarian relief

  • 3 million people in need of food aid

  • 130,000 houses destroyed

  • 24,000 people living in makeshift camps

  • 20 teams working to reunite lost children with their families

AFP

Ms Caldwell explained that the UK donations had been distributed to non-governmental organisations and DEC agencies already working in Nepal and had not been passed directly to the Nepalese government.

"Many of the agencies were already on the ground and they had stockpiles which they have started distributing. But those stockpiles are depleting," she added.

Three British Chinook military helicopters are being sent to Nepal to assist in the humanitarian effort. The Nepalese government has called for more foreign help, particularly aircraft, to access remote communities.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that British dual national Hemchandra Rai, 42, was killed in the disaster while reports of another British victim killed at Mount Everest base camp are still being investigated.

Image copyright DFID
Image caption UK military helicopters will be used to to transport people across hard-to-reach terrain

The whereabouts of 1,000 EU citizens remain unknown and according to a Red Cross missing persons list posted online, 28 people from Britain and Ireland remain unaccounted for.

An EU official said most of the missing Europeans were thought to have been trekking near Mount Everest or in the remote Langtang mountains.

On Thursday, 120 Britons caught up in the quake landed on a returning aid flight. Others are on their way home.

Steve Douglas, who was on Mount Everest, was evacuated to Lhasa in Tibet with the British army.

His father Gareth told the BBC that he had heard from his son before news of the earthquake hit the media: "He described massive earthquakes, rocks crashing all around."

"They were one of the lucky ones, he was at north base camp unlike the mess at south camp, where three avalanches hit them."

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