News World Nepal quake: families hold hope for loved ones

Nepal quake: families hold hope for loved ones

Hamish McKee and his grandmother Riitta Korpinen were working at an orphanage near the worst hit town of Pokhara.
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GALLERY: Earthquake devastates Nepal

Family and friends are waiting anxiously to learn the fate of dozens of missing Australians caught up in an earthquake that rocked Nepal and north India on Saturday.

At least one Australian is reportedly dead after being killed in an avalanche while trekking Mount Everest.

An expedition leader from tour company Dreamers’ Destination Treks and Expeditions said an Australian was among a dozen people killed.

“I have lost four team members in the avalanche – two Nepalis, one Chinese and an Australian,” guide Temba Tsheri Sherpa said, according to the German Press Agency.

Parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Minister Steve Ciobo told ABC Radio he was aware of the report, but the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had not confirmed the death.

Grave fears are held for others missing after the magnitude-7.8 earthquake killed more than 3200 people and triggered a fatal avalanche on Mount Everest.

Authorities have confirmed the safety of more than 830 Australians, after taking calls from more than 1250 friends and family members of those missing.

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At least 19 people have been killed at Mount Everest’s base camp, while another 100 hikers are reportedly trapped at camps further up the mountain.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, the co-ordinator for the Everest rescue efforts, said the bodies of victims would be identified in the coming days.

“They will be brought back to Kathmandu tomorrow, and then we will know the nationalities of these individuals,” Mr Tshering said.

Meanwhile, a powerful, magnitude 6.7 aftershock shook the Kathmandu area of Nepal a day after the massive earthquake.

Terrified residents, many forced to camp out after Saturday’s quake reduced buildings to rubble, were jolted by the aftershock that compounded the worst disaster to hit the impoverished Himalayan nation in more than 80 years.

National police spokesman Kamal Singh Ban says the number known to have died in Nepal has risen to 2,352 with 5,838 people injured while officials in India say the toll there stands at 60.

Worried relatives of the missing have inundated social media with pleas for help and information, and have reported loved ones missing on the Red Cross Family Links website, where travellers in the affected region can check in and confirm they are alive.

The missing include Dianne Coburn, 59, and Liam Oliver, 18, from Victoria, Zachary Sheridan, 20, from Adelaide, and Hamish McKee, 21, from Canberra.

Social media plea

The father of one of the Victorians unaccounted for after the earthquake has taken to social media to plead for information about his son’s whereabouts.

Justin Pomella, 27, is listed as missing on an international Red Cross register of people searching for loved ones. Mr Pomella’s family said his last known location was the Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu. He was there on Friday.

Justin Pomella's family has put a plea for information on Facebook of his whereabouts.
Justin Pomella’s family has put a plea for information of his whereabouts on Facebook. Photo: Facebook

Mr Pomella’s father also made an emotional plea for help tracking down his son.

“Please, please, please find my son Justin Pomella and his friend Mark Perko any information would help,” he said in a Facebook post.

“Not knowing is killing us and all his friends.”

Packed to the Rafters actor Hugh Sheridan has pleaded for prayers for his younger brother Zachary, 20, who was on Mt Everest.

Susan Chamberlain is another Victorian listed as missing.

Her daughter, Nikki Chamberlain, posted on Facebook that she was still waiting to hear from her.

A Canberra man and his grandmother working at an orphanage in Nepal also remain unaccounted for.

Hamish McKee, 21, from Holder and Riitta Korpinen, 66, from Carwoola just outside Canberra have spent the past four weeks working at an orphanage in the town of Biratnager in the south of the country.

Concerns remain for missing Brisbane men Henk Morgans, 32, Jackson Casagrande, 22, and Adam Murphy, 27, along with Redcliffe man Scott Stuart, 35, and Brisbane woman Samantha McGree, 25.

Also listed as missing are Cairns man Adam Faichney, 35, and Boonah woman Marilyn Ellem, 54.

Mr Faichney checked out of hospital in Kathmandu on Saturday morning but did not arrive at a nearby hotel where he had booked a room.

The Red Cross also lists Brisbane man James Scott, 49, as missing in India.

Confirmed ‘safe’

Ballantyne Paige Forder has been found safe in Nepal. Photo: Facebook

West Australian Ballantyne Paige Forder has been found safe in Nepal.

The 22-year-old contacted her family on Sunday after helping move the orphanage where she worked to a field.

Amanda-Sue Markham tweeted on Sunday: “My baby sister is safe. Prayers answered as she and the orphanage moved to safety”.

By early Sunday afternoon, the Red Cross listed 13 Queenslanders as missing, but Brisbane friends Jai Williams and Ben Flanders have since been confirmed as safe.

Ben Flanders’ twin brother, Tim, said he received a call from Jai Williams’ mother Debbie to confirm they were okay.

“I believe it was one of her friends working hard and found out somehow, not exactly sure, but I just got the phone call saying they were all right,” he said.

“I was obviously relieved, but I never got to the point where I thought there was something really wrong yet, so I guess that meant that they were all right.

Queenslander Alyssa Azar, 18, who was attempting to become the youngest Australian to climb Mt Everest, is safe.

Aid and assistance

At this stage Australia will send $5 million in financial aid and two humanitarian experts.

“The Australian Embassy in Nepal is providing assistance to Australians and has confirmed the safety of over 200,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.

Ms Bishop said there were 549 Australians registered as travelling in Nepal and officials were working to locate all those in the country.

While there are reports of extensive loss of life, at this point there are no reports of Australian deaths.

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had opened its Emergency Call Unit and had updated the travel advice for Nepal noting disruptions to telecommunications, transport and tourist infrastructure.

“I urge Australians concerned for the welfare of family and friends in Nepal to attempt to contact them directly,” she said.

Mt Everest base camp

Eighteen bodies have been recovered at the base camp on Mt Everest where hundreds of climbers remain stranded after the earthquake in Nepal triggered an avalanche, a mountaineering official said.

Helicopters began landing at the camp on Sunday morning to airlift the injured after flights were delayed by cloudy weather overnight, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

A rescue helicopter prepares to land and airlift the injured from Everest Base Camp, befall earthquake
A rescue helicopter prepares to land and airlift the injured from Everest Base Camp. Photo: Getty

“People being stretchered out as choppers land – half a dozen this morning,” AFP’s Kathmandu bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly said. “Weather clear, some snowfall.”

Nepal Mountaineering Association president Ang Tshering Sherpa said at least 61 people were injured.

One of the climbers killed was Dan Fredinburg, a Google engineer based in California. He suffered head injuries when the avalanche hit, according to a statement from the mountaineering company that had taken him to base camp.

Tourism ministry officials estimated that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at base camp or on the ascent to the peak when the earthquake struck.

There are around 100 climbers at camps one and two on Mount Everest, above base camp, and all are safe after an earthquake set off an avalanche, Mr Sherpa said.

It will be difficult to evacuate the climbers as the route back to base camp through the Khumbu icefalls is blocked, he aded

Almost exactly a year ago, an avalanche killed 16 Nepali guides, in what was then the single deadliest day on the mountain.

nepal earthquake
Photo: Google

Emergency information

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