NEW: The disaster has affected 8 million people across Nepal, U.N. estimates
NEW: The death toll in Nepal alone has risen to 4,352, Home Ministry says
Four U.S. citizens now reported dead, State Department says
Editor’s Note: As the rescue and recovery efforts continue, many charities and NGOs are sending teams, aid and medical assistance. Click here to find out about the organizations you can assist.
Rescue and aid workers in Nepal are struggling to cope with the scale of the devastation dealt by Saturday’s powerful earthquake – digging through rubble by hand, performing surgeries in makeshift operating theaters, scouring notoriously difficult terrain for more victims.
But power blackouts in the capital city of Kathmandu, supply shortages and difficulties getting around complicated the efforts.
By Tuesday morning, more than 4,400 people were confirmed dead as a result of the earthquake, the overwhelming majority of them in Nepal. Over 8,000 people were reported to have suffered injuries.
The United Nations estimated that the disaster had affected 8 million people across the Himalayan nation. More than 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance, the world body said in a situation report Monday.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said doctors at one Kathmandu hospital had moved patients from the 120-year-old building and into another structure, where they were operating on patients in rooms normally not used as operating theaters.
Hospitals were running short on supplies despite international efforts to bring in aid. Numerous aid groups and at least 16 nations rushed aid and workers to Nepal, with more on the way.
And across the region, thousands prepared to spend another night outdoors, fearing that damaged buildings could collapse if there are more aftershocks.
The destruction in Kathmandu, the capital, is stark: revered temples reduced to rubble, people buried in the wreckage of their homes, hospitals short on medical supplies and overflowing with patients. Serious damage is also reported in villages in the surrounding valley.
But farther out across Nepal’s rugged landscape – closer to the epicenter of Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 quake – the situation is disturbingly murky.
“Information about remote areas is severely lacking at this time,” said Devendra Singh Tak, an official with Save the Children, noting that roads were blocked and communications unreliable.
Reports of ‘total or near total destruction’
Patchy reports have filtered through of entire villages leveled by the quake or engulfed by landslides.
“Some of the initial surveys that we’re hearing of from the zones closer to the epicenter talk about total or near total destruction,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Tak, who is in Kathmandu, said Save the Children and other aid groups were sending out teams Monday to more remote areas. The Nepalese government said it was flying helicopters to places it couldn’t reach by road.
“That’s where one needs to get out and conduct rescue and relief,” Tak said.
UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, said Sunday that nearly 1 million Nepalese children urgently need assistance.
China, India, France, Italy, Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore and South Korea were among the nations sending aid and search and rescue crews. The European Union and the World Health Organization were also sending aid.
The United States announced Monday it would send $9 million, on top of the $1 million it had previously announced. That’s in addition to 45 tons of aid, a USAID disaster team and a search and rescue team already dispatched to Nepal. A U.S. Special Forces team in Nepal for high-altitude training was also helping out, according to the Pentagon.