The American Red Cross is committing $1,000,000 and mobilizing disaster specialists to help provide emergency humanitarian assistance following the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal. Efforts are part of a larger global Red Cross relief response, led by the Nepal Red Cross.
Eight American Red Cross disaster specialists are mobilized to support emergency relief, cash transfer programing, information management, recovery planning and IT/telecoms. The American Red Cross is also providing remote mapping and information management support and helping to reconnect separated families. Arrangements to send supplies from warehouses in Kuala Lumpar and Dubai, including non-food items such as tarps, buckets, kitchen sets and blankets, are in the works, although logistical transport remains a challenge.
While details of the impact continue to come in, the Nepal Red Cross, which has extensive experience in responding to natural disasters, is providing first aid, search and rescue, blood to medical facilities in the capital and support to first responders. Reports vary, but well over 3,300 people have been killed in Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh and at the Nepal-China border, with some 6,800 more injured. Many are feared trapped under rubble and the number of casualties is expected to rise. Some eight million people have been affected by the quake. At least 20 aftershocks, ranging from magnitude 5 to 6.7, caused further damage to buildings and increased the risk of collapse. Tremors were felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan, Lhasa in Tibet, and in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
More than six million people live within 60 miles of the epicenter, located some 50 miles northwest of the densely populated capital Katmandu which itself has a population of 2.5 million. Buildings and infrastructure have been damaged and destroyed. Electricity and telephone connectivity is intermittent and mobile services are experiencing heavy congestion. Hospitals continue to function but are stretched to the limits.
Accessibility and transportation are challenging in Nepal in the best of times. Before the earthquake, many rural communities where the Nepal Red Cross worked were only accessible by foot. The main international airport in Kathmandu is a very basic facility, and planes often have to wait long hours in queue to land. With the destruction, this situation is even more dire and getting supplies and transporting them within country is going to be a major challenge.
The Nepal Red Cross is headquartered in Kathmandu and has branches in all 75 districts, more than 1,300 sub-branches, 1.1 million members, and 100,000 active volunteers. The American Red Cross has been working with the NRCS since 1999, with its first long term project, focused on earthquake preparedness in Kathmandu, dating back to 2003.
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