KATHMANDU: Nepal’s government ruled out the possibility on Saturday of finding more survivors buried in the rubble from last weekend’s massive earthquake as it announced the death toll had risen to 6,621.
“It has already been one week since the disaster,” home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said.
“We are trying our best in rescue and relief work but now I don’t think that there is any possibility of survivors under the rubble.”
As well as updating the death toll, Dhakal put the number of injured at 14,023.
The 7.8-magnitude quake, which was the deadliest in Nepal for more than 80 years, devastated vast swathes of the country when it erupted around midday last Saturday and reduced much of the capital Kathmandu to ruins.
While multiple teams of rescuers from more than 20 countries have been using sniffer dogs and heat-seeking equipment to find survivors in the rubble, no one has been pulled alive since Thursday evening.
Nepal’s government renewed its appeal to international donors to send tents, tarpaulins and basic food supplies in the wake of last weekend’s devastating earthquake, saying some of the items being sent are of little use.
The government also asked donors to send money to help with relief efforts if they cannot send things that are immediately necessary.
“We have received things like tuna fish and mayonnaise. What good are those things for us? We need grains, salt and sugar,” finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat told reporters on Friday.
Mahat said the government had decided to exempt taxes on tents and tarpaulins.
Information minister Minendra Rijal said Nepal would immediately need 400,000 tents and so far has been able to provide only 29,000 to the people who need them.
Even a week after the massive earthquake, temples and homes, remote villages remain cut off from help.
Thousands of people were still missing in Nepal as food and help began to trickle through to those stranded in remote areas.
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.
Finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat said Nepal would need at least $2 billion to rebuild homes, hospitals, government offices and historic buildings and appealed for international backing.
“This is just an initial estimate and it will take time to assess the extent of damage and calculate the cost of rebuilding,” Mahat said.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala told Reuters earlier this week the death toll from the quake could reach 10,000.
That would surpass the 8,500 who died in a 1934 earthquake, the last disaster on this scale to hit the nation sandwiched between India and China.
Home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said that though the 1934 quake was more powerful, fewer people lived in the Kathmandu valley then.
“The scale of reconstruction will be unprecedented,” Dhakal said.