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Nepal earthquake: Rescue efforts intensified as death toll crosses 2,000 mark

Rescue efforts in Nepal are intensifying as volunteers and experts rush to the country to help in the wake of the death and destruction caused by the earthquake and this morning's aftershock.

At least 2,152 people are now confirmed dead in the massive earthquake that hit just outside Kathmandu, an official in Nepal said today.

Deputy inspector general of police Komal Singh Bam gave no further details.

Saturday's 7.8 magnitude quake struck Nepal before noon and was most severely felt in the capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley. Aftershocks are rippling through the region today, spreading fear and panic.

The biggest of the aftershocks was magnitude 6.7 and sent people yelling and running for open ground.

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

The UK has deployed an eight-strong team to provide urgent humanitarian support for those affected by the disaster.

Experts in search and rescue are travelling to Nepal overnight and will begin work assessing the scale of damage, and helping local authorities to direct the response.

About an hour after the initial quake, a magnitude 6.6 aftershock hit and smaller aftershocks could be felt through the region for hours.

A magnitude 6.7 aftershock struck this morning, adding to the massive task that rescue workers are now faced with.

Mountaineering guide Ang Tshering said an avalanche swept the face of Mount Everest after the earthquake and government officials said at least 17 people were dead and 61 injured.

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.

Sheffield-based travel firm Jagged Globe said it had yet to hear from several teams in Nepal, including British tourists set to climb mountains in the Himalayas.

They said in a statement last night: "We have received some information from Nepal. We have two teams in Kathmandu. They are our Mera Peak Expedition that left the UK on 3 April and our Annapurna Circuit team that started on 9 April. Members of these teams are safe in the Summit Hotel, Kathmandu."

"We are still awaiting status reports from our Mera and Island Peak team, who were due to climb Mera Peak today. Also from Dhaulagiri Circuit and Dhaulagiri Circuit (Eldor), who were scheduled to walk to Solgari today."

A number of other Britons have also not been heard from since the quake struck.

Several are listed on Google's Person Finder tool under a section entitled 2015 Nepal Earthquake.

The database includes Sebastian Lovera, a 22-year-old qualified skiing and diving instructor, from Tonbridge, Kent.

His last known location was Khumjung on Tuesday, from where he was heading towards Everest Base Camp.

His stepfather, Greg Smye-Rumsby, said: "Sebastian is an extremely lively and self-motivating person and that is why he went to Nepal.

"We haven't heard from him. He would not have switched his phone off. We have tried ringing it. Sometimes it rings and sometimes we get an answer but it's an automated answer. It says the phone is switched off.

"He's certainly not a person to take risks. He's the absolute opposite."

Mr Lovera is described as being around 5ft 8ins, with dark blond/light brown hair and very fit. He has a red Black Diamond down jacket and brown Karrimor walking boots with a hole in the left boot.

Another Briton feared missing is Laura Wood, 23, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

She is described by a friend as a "glowing lovely beautiful young girl often dressed in hippy type clothing". Miss Wood has been trekking in the Himalayas without any means of making contact.

John Carroll, 59, listed his daughter Julia Carroll, 22, from Boxford, Suffolk, on the website with her location "unspecified", describing her as 5ft 8ins, and slim, with long brown hair and brown eyes.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: "I spoke to her on the phone on Friday afternoon when she rang home to wish me a happy birthday. We are desperately worried.

"It's a tragic situation out there, with so many deaths and so much destruction and we can only hope she is safe and gets in touch."

Those in the Nepal described the impact of the quake.

Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan International UK, who is on a scheduled visit, said she was on the top floor of a building when it started to "shake violently".

Sarah Blin, Handicap International's programme director in Nepal said that people rushed outdoors after the quake, and described hospitals as being overwhelmed and short of supplies.

Oxfam is also lending its support to the rescue effort with teams in Nepal already assessing the humanitarian need and a team of technical experts preparing to fly 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 and the British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal.

A team of 14 volunteer rescuers from UK charity Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters are set to fly out to Kathmandu today, taking with them 1.5 tonnes of specialist equipment to help them rescue people in collapsed buildings.

Further reading:

Irish citizens trapped by quake

Major aftershock shakes Kathmandu

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