An additional $10 million in funding will be provided by Australia to help Nepal recover from April’s devastating magnitude-7.8 earthquake, as the search for bodies in the village of Langtang was suspended due to bad weather.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said the funding would support women and vulnerable communities establishing small businesses and help children going back to school, as the country started to rebuild after the earthquake, which killed at least 7,913 people and injured more than 17,800.
The money will also be spent on Australian engineering experts to provide advice on rebuilding education infrastructure.
“Our thoughts continue to be with the millions of people affected by this tragic event,” Ms Bishop said in a statement.
The funding brings Australia’s total contribution to more than $20 million.
Earlier this month, two C-17 aircraft carrying nearly 15 tonnes of Australian aid as well as two RAAF aero medical evacuation teams were sent to the stricken country.
About 70 defence personnel, immigration and other government officials also travelled to Kathmandu to distribute the aid and help with evacuation efforts.
The additional funding comes as the search for missing trekkers, guides and residents feared buried by a massive landslide and avalanche triggered by the earthquake was suspended due to bad weather.
The suspension of the search in the village of Langtang underscores the challenging conditions facing rescuers, soldiers and aid workers two weeks after the quake struck.
“Fresh avalanches are hitting the area continuously,” district official Gautam Rimal said.
“Rescuers who were searching for bodies have now moved to safe places.”
Twenty bodies were recovered on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths in Langtang to 120.
Two of the bodies, however, were almost immediately buried again in a new avalanche, Mr Rimal said.
Large swaths of remote, hard-to-access locations such as Langtang, 60 kilometres north of the capital Kathmandu, were devastated in the earthquake, and aid agencies say many places have yet to be reached to assess the damage or deliver relief supplies.
Officials remained unsure how many people were in Langtang village, in the heart of a popular trekking and climbing area, when the earthquake and landslide struck. Residents have said that as many as 180 people may still be buried under the snow.
Mr Rimal said the search in Langtang would resume once the weather cleared and daily avalanches stop.
The bodies of nine foreigners killed in Langtang have been sent to Kathmandu, and bodies of residents have been returned to relatives.