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Britons helped after Nepal quake

Published 26/04/2015

The body of a victim is recovered from the debris of a building that collapsed after the quake in Kathmandu (AP)
The body of a victim is recovered from the debris of a building that collapsed after the quake in Kathmandu (AP)

The Foreign Office has received no reports of Britons being killed or injured in the Nepal earthquake, but said it has helped hundreds of people.

Teams of consular staff in the country have been scouring hospitals and popular tourist hotspots, looking for British nationals who may need assistance.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond today announced that 200 Britons had been given practical help by embassy staff.

He said: "There are several hundred British nationals in Nepal at this time of year and we expect that almost certainly some will have been caught up in the earthquakes. But at this moment we have no reports of any British nationals killed or injured."

Mr Hammond added that damage to communications infrastructure was making it difficult to contact some people who may be in remote locations, meaning it could be some time before all the Britons in the region could be identified and accounted for.

He continued: "The Foreign Office is urgently deploying additional consular response teams from London and Delhi to reinforce our embassy staff and looking at what else we can do."

On Twitter Prime Minister David Cameron announced that UK medics and search and rescue teams would be flying out to Nepal tonight.

He also posted: "RAF aircraft will fly reinforcements and more supplies tomorrow. #Nepal."

Earlier today the Department for International Development announced that it would be providing £5 million of humanitarian aid for Nepal.

A total of £3 million has been released under the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) to address immediate, on-the-ground needs and £2 million has been released to the British Red Cross.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "As the death toll rises and the scale of this devastating earthquake becomes evident, the UK is continuing to do everything it can to help all those affected by this tragedy."

She said that this meant that funding could be fast-tracked to aid workers on the ground so they can provide desperately needed supplies including clean water, shelter, household items and blankets.

The move came as the death toll continued to rise, with Nepalese authorities confirming that the number of fatalities had risen to more than 2,000.

Rescue efforts in the country were being reinforced by volunteers and experts rushing to help in the wake of the death and destruction caused by the quake and this morning's aftershock.

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck just before midday yesterday, sending tremors through the Kathmandu Valley and the nearby city of Pokhara.

The majority of deaths were reported in Nepal, with deaths also being confirmed in India, Tibet, Bangladesh and the Nepal-China border.

The quake also set in motion an avalanche which swept the face of Mount Everest, killing at least 17 people and injuring 61, government officials said.

Several Britons are among those stranded on the world's highest peak, with access to its base camp cut off.

Among them is Daniel Mazur, a Summit Climb expedition leader from Bristol, who tweeted: "A massive earthquake just hit Everest. Base camp has been severely damaged. Our team is caught in camp one. Please pray for everyone."

He later posted: "12+1 members at Everest base camp TV team passed away. RIP. Earthquake loosed tons of ice down, creating wind blast destroying base camp heart."

Another tweet from Mr Mazur queried whether the icefall team were "alive" following the aftershock.

Those in the Nepalese capital described the impact of the quake.

Nicholas Roxburgh, a 26-year-old PhD student from Ormskirk, Lancashire, was in Kathmandu - near the epicentre of the earthquake - when disaster struck.

He has lived in Nepal for nine months, exploring the rural water system management, and was due to return to the UK on Tuesday.

Nicholas, whose brother Alasdair Roxburgh is campaigns manager at Christian Aid, said he had been sitting at his desk when the building began to sway.

He described running into the bathroom and finding an exit as soon as possible, before making his way to the street

"Just a few doors down from the building where I had been staying, a hospital stood - relatively undamaged, its staff out on the street fearing collapse. Within minutes injured people began to arrive, in cars, taxis, on foot, being carried by others.

"It was immediately clear there had been casualties. The lifeless bodies of two young children were carried in, while countless others arrived with a variety of horrific injuries - many having been hurt by falling masonry, others having been pulled from collapsed buildings," said Mr Roxburgh.

He added that he then went to the embassy and began doing whatever he could to help.

Oxfam is also lending its support with teams flying in from the UK with supplies to provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food supplies.

Christian Aid has made an initial £50,000 available to help victims.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, speaking at a campaign event in north London, pledged that Britain would do everything it could to help Nepal in its "hour of need".

Anyone who is caught up in the incident or worried about a family member should call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on +44 (0) 207 008 0000.

A team of more than 60 search and rescue responders and medical experts has been deployed as part of a cross-government capacity surge to support the relief effort in Nepal, Ms Greening said.

A DFID-chartered flight is due to leave London this evening for Kathmandu, carrying seven UK International Search and Rescue crews, four search and rescue dogs, a medical support team and a hazardous materials specialist.

They will take with them more than 11 tonnes of kit, including torches, axes, rope, search cameras, stretchers and tents.

Also on board will be trauma medics travelling as part of a DFID-deployed UK Med team, a five-strong Foreign Office Rapid Deployment Team who will provide further consular assistance for British nationals affected by the disaster, and experts from leading aid agencies including the British Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Map Action.

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