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Nepal: Newry man feared lost in quake survives as death toll tops 4,000

By Adrian Rutherford

A Northern Ireland man feared missing in the rubble of the Nepal earthquake is alive.

Oliver McKevitt was among 90 British and Irish-born people unaccounted for following the 7.8-magnitude quake.

The 24-year-old from Newry had been in the town of Lukla before the disaster hit.

Mr McKevitt was on a list of missing people released by the Red Cross. However, his details were later updated to indicate he was alive.

A family member confirmed that he was safe.

Saturday's massive earthquake is now known to have killed around 4,000 people and injured thousands more.

Some 50 Britons, plus five Irish people, were still unaccounted for last night.

It is believed Mr McKevitt flew to Lukla, situated in north-east Nepal, last Tuesday. He had planned to trek the Mera Peak.

One of Nepal's most popular treks, it climbs to around 6,400 metres.

According to Mr McKevitt's online profile, he is a former pupil of St Paul's High School in Newry.

More recently he had been working in Australia.

He is a relative of the South Down SDLP MLA Karen McKevitt.

A party spokesman said: "The family have asked the media to allow them privacy at this time so they can focus on doing all they can to find their relative."

Dominic Bradley, who is SDLP MLA for Newry and Mourne, said the community had been praying for good news.

"My thoughts and feelings are with this young man's family at this particular time of great anxiety," he said.

The Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin has said around 100 Irish people were in the affected region at the time of the quake.

The Red Cross list had included 14 names from Ireland.

By 5pm yesterday all but five of them had made contact with home.

Two of those still unaccounted for, Sinead Nic Cionna (31) and Thomas Drumm (55), are from the Monaghan area.

Also still missing are Ciaran Sands (55) from Dublin, Madelana Ryan (48) from Dublin and 28-year-old Sam O'Neill.

Ms Nic Cionna's sister, Siobhan, said the family have not heard from her since the earthquake.

She said Sinead had been on the Annapurna trek in Nepal and had been making plans to travel to Borneo.

Sinead was travelling with her boyfriend, a Canadian citizen.

A number of people from Northern Ireland were caught up in the quake.

Barry Torrens, from Portrush, was crossing a river in Nepal when the tremors struck.

"It was a tremendous rumble and the local guides were quite concerned," he told the BBC.

A Nepalese family living in Northern Ireland also lost a close relative in the disaster.

Haku Pradhan Maharjan (75), the uncle of Dunmurry resident Jayanti Chudal, was struck on the head by a brick after attending worship in a Hindu temple. He died in hospital.

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