The devastation and reported number of deaths and injuries continue to rise in Nepal following a 7.8 earthquake which struck the country.
According to reports over 2,000 people are dead and thousands more are still missing as aftershocks continue to rattle the battered area with Kathmandu and Pokhara reported as areas hit with extreme damage..
Following the disaster, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer called for the Government to act immediately on helping with earthquake relief efforts.
He says, “We have strong and close links to the Nepalese people through Sir Ed Hilary and his legacy of support to Nepalese communities. But we also have first-hand experience and expertise in providing practical and logistical assistance in earthquake relief. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. This is a tragedy on a massive scale and we cannot sit back and watch from the side-lines.”
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced that New Zealand will make an initial contribution of $1 million to assist Nepal.
McCully says, “New Zealand’s contribution will be provided to agencies that are active on the ground and have the capability to provide immediate assistance.”
He says “The Ministry has made contact with more than 110 New Zealanders. Given the scale of this disaster, and the fact that communications remain intermittent, it may take time to account for all the New Zealanders in the affected area.”
Meanwhile the New Zealand Red Cross has launched an appeal to support the needs of people affected and is working to restore contact between people separated by the disaster.
Tony Paine Secretary General of New Zealand Red Cross says the humanitarian need following the earthquake is going to be huge.
“The Nepal Red Cross has already mobilized emergency response teams who are tirelessly looking for survivors. We have launched an emergency appeal here in New Zealand to help support their immediate relief efforts and we will also work with them in the long term to help people recover.”
The Red Cross says if New Zealanders are looking for missing loved ones in Nepal, to register their names on this website: http://familylinks.icrc.org/nepal-earthquake/en/Pages/Home.aspx