The Irish Red Cross has launched an appeal for victims of the weekend earthquake in Nepal. Online donations can be made at redcross.ie where details of the international Restoring Family Links* service for tracing people potentially affected are also available.
Early estimates are that around two million people are affected and the latest Red Cross figures on the ground say 2,000 people have died and thousands are missing following the earthquake which hit the mountainous country on Saturday.
Two Red Cross volunteers and a staff member at the Nepal Red Cross have died in Kathmandu and the status of personnel in all other affected districts is not yet known.
Strong aftershocks reported today are a serious threat to life and property as buildings collapse endangering life - including relief workers - and blocking access to the trapped and injured.
Irish Red Cross Head of International John Roche, who has recently returned from India, said talks have taken place within the Red Cross Movement at an international level and it is clear funds will need to be raised here in Ireland to support the relief effort.
“I welcome the Department of Foreign Affairs efforts to trace Irish people known to be in Nepal through the Irish consulate in Dehli. The Nepal Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are already helping trace missing relatives through our Restoring Family Links* service,” Mr Roche said.
“Hospitals in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu are functioning but are stretched to the limit. Powerful aftershocks continue to be felt, so further damage is a risk, increasing the climate of fear among the local population.
“Most casualties reported so far are in the Kathmandu valley where buildings have collapsed in densely populated areas, including historic buildings such as the Darahara Tower.
“We are extremely worried about communities in towns and villages in rural areas close to the epicentre of the quake which is 80km from Kathmandu.
“Access roads have been damaged or blocked by landslides and communications lines are down, preventing us from reaching local Red Cross branches to get accurate information.
“We expect considerable loss of life and injury and are preparing a more detailed response to the immediate needs as they become clear,” Mr Roche added.
*To view the Restoring Family Links Register here : ICRC Restoring Family Links Website