International aid poured into Nepal Tuesday following pleas from officials in the wake of a devastating earthquake, amid concerns from Nepalis that their country’s government is not doing enough.
Nepal’s officials have been largely absent as the country struggles to clean up after its worst earthquake in nearly a century, Reuters reports.
"We have no faith in our government, only India and [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi are helping us," said villager Dhruba Kandel in Dhading. "If it were not for these helicopters, people would be dying on the mountains by the dozens."
Modi was on television within hours after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Saturday, promising to “wipe the tears of every Nepali.”
The country's confirmed death toll from the earthquake rose to 4,680 on Tuesday, said police Inspector Sharad Thapa at the Nepal Police Control Room in Kathmandu. Another 61 were killed in neighboring India, and China's official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 dead in Tibet. At least 18 of the dead were killed at Mount Everest as the quake unleashed an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing for summit attempts.
Some 8,063 people have been injured, Bam said. Tens of thousands are believed to be homeless and officials said 250 villagers were feared missing in a new mudslide.
India and China -- Nepals’ neighbors -- have emerged as key players in the multinational relief effort, both promising rescuers, sniffer dogs, tents and food within hours of the disaster, winning praise from Nepalis, according to Reuters.
In Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu, Chinese rescuers in red uniforms have been picking through the rubble for survivors. Television footage Tuesday showed one crew pulling a man out of a collapsed hotel and carrying him on a stretcher.
In the country’s more remote areas, Indian Air Force helicopters have been ferrying women and children plucked from hilltops and valleys to hospitals.
“We are overwhelmed with rescue and assistance requests from all across the country,” Deepak Panda, a member of Nepal’s disaster management agency, said Monday, according to the Guardian.
Lila Mani Poudyal, the government’s chief secretary and the rescue coordinator, said authorities are “appealing for tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses, and 80 different medicines ... that we desperately need now.”
Rescue workers and medical teams from at least a dozen countries were helping police and army troops in Kathmandu and surrounding areas, said Maj. Gen. Binod Basnyat, a Nepal Army spokesman. Contributions came from large countries like India and China — but also from Nepal's tiny Himalayan neighbor of Bhutan, which dispatched a medical team.
At the Kathmandu airport, foreign planes from Britain, India, the U.S., China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Israel that brought aid and rescue personnel lined up on the crowded tarmac.
Medical and rescue teams from Russia, Japan, France, Switzerland and Singapore were expected in Kathmandu over the coming days, the Nepal Army said.
The United Nations said it is releasing $15 million from its central emergency response fund for quake victims. The funds will allow international humanitarian groups to scale up operations and provide shelter, water, medical supplies and logistical services, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The U.S. Agency for International Development announced Monday that it would provide $10 million in humanitarian funding to the earthquake response and recovery efforts. USAID activated search and rescue teams from Virginia and California as part of its disaster relief effort.
“This emergency assistance builds on our years of support for risk reduction partnerships in Nepal,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, Director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. “Those partnerships -- which include work USAID has supported to train local authorities on urban search-and-rescue and to pre-position emergency commodities -- now provide a strong foundation for the relief effort and Nepal’s recovery.”
Kuwait announced Monday evening it would provide $3 million in urgent aid to assist victims of the earthquake.
At Dubai International Airport, workers loaded crates packed with relief aid into a Boeing 747 destined for Nepal, just over a four-hour flight away.
And the largest Emirati telecom, Etisalat, is offering customers five free minutes to call loved ones in Nepal by entering a special code on their mobile phones.
Chief Marketing Officer Khaled Elkhouly described the move as "a small gesture during this hour of crisis."
The oil-rich Gulf states are a key destination for Nepalese migrant workers, where they find jobs as maids, security guards and construction workers.
China, which said it will provide $3.3 million in aid -- roughly the same as the European Union -- has been criticized in the past for its reaction to natural disasters in the area.
"The Chinese response to humanitarian disasters has been limited: in the (2004) tsunami disaster they did very little, and even in the (2005) Kashmir earthquake there was no focused Chinese response," said Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, a Senior Fellow for South Asia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
In the wake of the 2013 Philippines typhoon -- China gave less help than Swedish furniture company Ikea, costing the country political goodwill in the region, according to Reuters.
"Clearly they have upped their game and they feel this is becoming an important part of their relationship with South Asia,” Roy-Chaudhury added.
China and India have been using aid and investment to court Nepal for years.
"India and China are sending specialized relief personnel, and they are working very hard," Nepal's Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said in an interview with the Indian Express newspaper on Tuesday.
"A friend in need is a friend indeed," added Mahesh Kumar Maskey, Nepal's ambassador to China, in remarks carried by China’s Xinhua news agency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.