KATHMANDU: Thousands of people were still missing in Nepal on Friday as food and help began to trickle through to those stranded in remote areas after last week’s earthquake which over 6,600.
The death toll could rise further. Bodies are still being pulled from the debris of ruined buildings, while rescue workers have not been able to reach some remote areas.
The government put the number of injured at more than 14,350.
In the capital Kathmandu, many unclaimed bodies were being quickly cremated because of the need to avert disease and reduce the stench of corpses in areas where buildings had collapsed.
Morgues are full beyond capacity and we have been given instructions to incinerate bodies immediately after they are pulled out,” said Raman Lal, an Indian paramilitary force official working in coordination with Nepali forces.
Many of the dead could be migrant workers from neighbouring India, local officials said.
The head of the European Union delegation in Nepal said up to 1,000 Europeans were still unaccounted for, mostly around popular trekking routes.
Officials said it was hard to trace the missing because many backpackers do not register with their embassies.
“It does not mean that they are buried. They could have left the country without telling anyone before the earthquake struck,” Ambassador Rensje Teerink told reporters.
Another EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “A number of EU citizens are not accounted for, but this could be for many reasons. It is fast moving and very fluid and estimated numbers are only estimates.”
The number of people unaccounted for from France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands is 371, according to checks Reuters made with these governments, while all Irish citizens, Croatians and Romanians have been traced.
Other European nations have yet to provide an updated figure for how many of their citizens are unaccounted for.
Aid was slowly reaching remote towns and villages nestled in the Himalayan mountains and foothills of the impoverished nation.
But government officials said efforts to step up the pace of delivery were frustrated by a shortage of supply trucks and drivers, many of whom had returned to their villages to help their families.
“Our granaries are full and we have ample food stock, but we are not able to transport supplies at a faster pace,” said Shrimani Raj Khanal, a manager at the Nepal Food Corp.
Army helicopters have air-dropped instant noodles and biscuits to remote communities but people need rice and other ingredients to cook a proper meal, he said.
Many Nepalis have been sleeping in the open since the 7.8 magnitude quake, with survivors afraid to return to their homes because of powerful aftershocks. According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.
Information Minister Minendra Rijal said the government would provide $1,000 in immediate assistance to the families of those killed, as well as $400 for cremation or burial.
The UN said 8 million of Nepal’s 28 million people were affected, with at least 2 million needing tents, water, food and medicines over the next three months.