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World

Nepal Earthquake Victims Are Desperate For Help

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We are also following news out of Nepal following Saturday's earthquake. People there have found little refuge from the powerful aftershocks, and many too frightened to stay indoors are sleeping under the stars. International aid groups have yet to reach remote mountain villages. They may find that many have been wiped off the map. From Kathmandu, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports there's anger rising in the capital about aid that is too slow in coming.

JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: Nepalis exiled from their homes are sprawled in a vast field of makeshift accommodations. A patchwork of bed linens, tablecloths and plastic tarps are hoisted onto polls to fashion the flimsiest of tents. If the filth, rain and rock-hard beds of earth aren't bad enough, there's this...

(SOUNDBITE OF PANICKED CROSSTALK IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

MCCARTHY: Panic. An aftershock Sunday measuring 6.7 instills terror. Rippling beneath the field, it triggers roars of fear. Thrown off balance myself and struggling to stay upright, it's not difficult to comprehend why people chose to set up house outdoors. Anita Dhungana lay on a blanket she shares with strangers, a bloodied tube draining from her stomach. She had an appendectomy just before the earthquake, but she's no less a victim of it. Doctors ordered her to recuperate here in this field rather than in her aging hospital that's been deemed unsafe.

ANITA DHUNGANA: (Foreign language spoken).

MCCARTHY: "I can't tell you how sad it is to be here," Anita says, stifling tears. "This tent is the only thing we have. I don't have much to eat. I want to go somewhere else. I paid so much to the hospital, and it didn't help. I'm not angry because there are many more people with serious injuries due to the earthquake. But who do I complain to, and where do I go," says the 31-year-old mother.

On the two occasions we visited, we spotted a single truck delivering water and the Nepali army administering medicine. A coordinator with the Red Cross said they left early yesterday when residents grew angry. Santosh Dahal, 25, says they should be angry. Dahal comes as a volunteer to this field of earthquake exiles for three to four hours a day to clean up in a bid to stave off disease - doing the work, he says, the government aid agencies are not doing.

SANTOSH DAHAL: Three days I've been crying because I've lost my peoples. There's more chances of being more calamities over here. People wanted to hear that there is presence of government, there's presence of medical team, there's presence of donors. But I don't see any presence of them.

MCCARTHY: Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. resident coordinator in Nepal, says the fact that residents at least had access to stocks of food and water meant that the pressing need in Kathmandu has been on search and rescue. He says he's more worried about the area of the epicenter, a place where not even army helicopters have been able to land.

JAMIE MCGOLDRICK: The roads are uncertain - the major roads, although we're hearing good news that those are, for the most part, passable. But some cleaning has to be done using heavy equipment. The second thing is the fact that a lot of these affected areas are on high mountainous areas. And getting up to them through using very primitive roads there is not easy because many of them have are damaged and many of them have been blocked by landslides.

MCCARTHY: McGoldrick says international groups have begun arriving after repeated closures of the airport delayed many of them. USAID has deployed disaster experts and 114 people to join rescuers searching for survivors. Teams from Mercy Corps will begin to attempt to survey the damage in the remote areas not yet reached. Mercy Corps program director Jeffrey Shannon says that local contacts have told them that in many of the villages there's nothing left standing. Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Kathmandu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.