The Himalayan country of Nepal suffered a devastating earthquake over the weekend, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. More than 5,000 people are known dead in Nepal, with more than 10,000 injured, according to Nepalese authorities. But those numbers are expected to rise further as information emerges from more remote areas. Additional deaths have been reported in India, China, and Bangladesh.
The capital city of Kathmandu contains many small, poorly constructed brick apartment buildings. Many people are sleeping outside for fear of additional aftershocks and falling debris. While more modern structures came through the quake fairly unscathed, many religious and cultural sites in Katmandu that survived previous earthquakes are now in ruins. Rescuers are sifting through temples' rubble by hand in order to safely extricate survivors, bodies or priceless artifacts buried within.
The earthquake also set off deadly avalanches on Mount Everest, killing at least eighteen people in the mountain's base camp.
The United States, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a written statement, sends its deepest condolences to all of those affected by the earthquake in Nepal and neighboring countries. The United States is working closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support.
U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Peter Bodde issued a disaster declaration in order to immediately release an initial $1 million for emergency assistance. Two days later, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced an additional $9 million in assistance to address life-saving priorities, including search and rescue efforts, the provision of shelter, water, and emergency health care. U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has deployed a 128-person Disaster Assistance Response Team to coordinate the U.S. government’s response efforts. Included in this team are two Urban Search and Rescue units that are working to find survivors.
US military medics are in Kathmandu and are coordinating with the Nepal Army on how best to assist. The U.S. will continue to coordinate assistance with the Nepalese government.
To the people in Nepal, and the region affected by this tragedy, said Secretary Kerry, the United States stands with you at this difficult time.