US Teams on Ground to Help Earthquake Victims in Nepal

Jennifer Massey, Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue K-9 search specialist from Fairfax, Va., and her K-9 dog, Phayu, board a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III on Dover Air Force Base, Del., April 26, 2015. Massey and Phayu are part of a 69-person search and rescue team deploying to Nepal to assist in rescue operations after the country was struck by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake

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Washington, DC – The United States joined international efforts to help tens of thousands of shell-shocked and rain-soaked Nepalese, who are trying to sleep in the streets as a number of strong terrifying aftershocks kept coming after the region was devastated earlier by a massive earthquake. More than 4,000 people have died and the toll is expected to rise once the relief teams start reaching the far-flung mountainous areas.

Thousands have been injured while dozens of people are also reported to have been killed in neighboring China and India. More than 200 climbers have been rescued around Mount Everest, which was struck by deadly avalanches in the 7.8-magnitude quake.

Jeff Rathke, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department confirmed in a statement on Monday, “We can confirm the deaths of two U.S. citizens Thomas Ely Taplin and Vinh B. Truong, and we are aware of reports of the deaths of two other US citizens. All of the reported victims were located at the Mt. Everest base camp area when the earthquake struck.”

The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry earlier offered condolences along with pledging support while the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday announced that the US authorized $10 million in aid.

In a statement, Secretary Kerry expressed “deepest condolences to all of those affected by today’s earthquake in Nepal, including the families of those who died in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.” “We are working closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support,” Kerry said.

A National Security Council (NSC) Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said, “The earthquake and subsequent landslides caused widespread damage and loss of life in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The United States is deploying a team of disaster response experts to Nepal, is providing an initial one million dollars in disaster relief assistance, and stands ready to assist the Government and people of Nepal and the region further in this time of need.”

“Our emergency response team is en route to Nepal and we are prepared to help any way that we can,” said Michael J. Nyenhuis, President and CEO of AmeriCares, as an emergency response team from the AmeriCares India office in Mumbai headed to the impact zone. Nyenhuis added, “This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families suffering.”

The State Department said it was “conducting accountability checks of US embassy personnel and US citizens” and said all US citizens in the disaster zone should “shelter in place if they are in a safe location”.

“Time is of the essence for the search and rescue operations,” said Under-Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos. “The actions of the Government of Nepal and local communities themselves have already saved many lives.”

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the earthquake, as well as nearly 60 aftershocks that followed, caused “vast devastation across much of the country,” adding that at least 940,000 children live in areas severely affected by the quake and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance

The UN situation report says that 35 of the 75 districts in Nepal are reported to be affected by the earthquake, with the most affected districts being Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Ramechhap.

The quake occurred at the meeting point of two plates of the Earth’s crust, one of which supports India to the south and the other Eurasia to the north. The Indian plate is moving at an average speed of 45 millimetres a year under the Eurasian plate according to experts.

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