101-year-old man rescued week after Nepal quake as fear grows in rural areas

KATHMANDU: Rescuers have pulled a 101-year-old man alive from his ruined home a week after Nepal’s earthquake, even as the government warned on Sunday that toll, already exceeding 7,200, would climb “much higher”.

Trapped since April 25 when the quake struck, Funchu Tamang was rescued on Saturday from the rubble of his house with only minor injuries to his ankle and hand. “He was brought to the district hospital in a helicopter. His condition is stable,” local police officer Arun Kumar Singh said from Nuwakot district, around 80km northwest of Kathmandu.

Three women were also rescued in Sindhupalchok, one of the worst-hit districts. The rescues were the only good news as cops found 51 bodies, including those of trekkers, in northern Rasuwa district that was hit by an avalanche last week. Officials warned of more grim news as an entire village was swept away in the avalanche.

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“We estimate that about 100 foreigners might still be missing in the area,” said senior local official Uddav Prasad Bhattarai. “Our priority was to get the survivors out. We rescued over 350 people, about a half of them were tourists or guides.”

Funchu Tamang, 101, sits on a bed in a hospital in Nepal’s Nuwakot district, on May 3, 2015, around 80 kilometres northwest of Kathmandu where he was taken after being rescued from his collapsed home a day earlier. (AFP photo)

Finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat said the toll was likely to jump once relief teams reached mountain villages flattened in the worst quake to hit the nation in more than 80 years. “There are still villages where we know that all houses have been destroyed, but have not yet been able to reach,” Mahat said in a statement. “The aftershocks have not receded and we expect the final casualty numbers to climb much higher.”

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The relief effort received a boost late Sunday when a US air force C-17 aircraft and four tilt-rotor Ospreys landed in Kathmandu. “They’re going to make an immediate difference,” US Brigadier General Paul Kennedy said. “We’ve got search and rescue teams waiting to go out to the remote areas, we’ve got relief supplies, especially shelters. Most people don’t understand that a shelter is the most pressing need, so we’re going to take these things out starting tomorrow morning,” he added.

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