by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
South Korea has pledged $1 million in aid to Nepal after the country was struck with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on Saturday morning, reports Yonhap News Agency.
More than 4,000 people were killed and at least 7,180 were injured in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, which struck near the country’s capital city of Kathmandu, according to the Associated Press. Tens of thousands are estimated to be left homeless.
Multiple aftershocks, including one registered at magnitude 6.7, crippled Nepal’s transportation network and caused sporadic power outages nationwide, making it difficult for relief teams to search for survivors under the rubble and deliver food, fuel, blankets and medical supplies. Conditions are reportedly far worse in mountain villages, where some roads and trails have become blocked by landslides.
“There are people who are not getting food and shleter. I’ve had reports of villages where 70 percent of the houses have been destroyed,” Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the remote region of Gorkha, told the Associated Press.
The South Korean embassy in Kathmandu has already established a hotline for people to use to contact the mission as well as a help desk at the Kathmandu airport to assist Korean nationals wishing to leave the country by plane. According to Yonhap, about 650 South Koreans are living in Nepal and some 800 to 1,000 are believed to be visiting the country.
“The embassy has been bombarded by phone calls from South Korea asking the staff to contact relatives living or traveling in the country,” said Ambassador Choi Yong-jin.
On Sunday, the Korean Red Cross said it will give Nepal $10,000 in relief funds and provide thousands of blankets and emergency kits. It is also preparing to send a team of medical workers to the quake-hit country.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s foreign ministry announced on Monday that it will deploy a 40-member disaster relief squad in addition to pledging $1 million in humanitarian aid to Nepal.
Other Asian countries that have sent rescue workers, medical teams and other contributions to Nepal include China, India, Singapore, Malaysia and even the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan. Taiwan has also offered to send a 20-man rescue team, but Nepal turned down the assistance, despite the island’s extensive experience in responding to natural disasters.
Taiwanese Vice Foreign Minister Andrew Kao said Taiwan will still send an advanced team to Nepal in case of medical assistance. Taiwan has also pledged $300,000 in aid and its Red Cross has already started a fundraising campaign to raise $1 million for Nepal’s post-disaster reconstruction.
This is Nepal’s most devastating earthquake since 1934, when the nation was struck by a magnitutde-8.0 quake that all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.
Featured image of Abir Abdullah/European Pressphoto Agency