Nepal earthquake: Alive! Man 101 pulled from rubble

Nepal earthquake: Alive! Man 101 pulled from rubble

As time runs out for those trapped by the quake, one old man's miracle gives hope

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Chinese soldiers stand near a Chinese aircraft as they brought relief materials for the April 25 earthquake victims in Nepal at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Officials worry the runway might not hold up.
Chinese soldiers stand near a Chinese aircraft as they brought relief materials for the April 25 earthquake victims in Nepal at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Officials worry the runway might not hold up.
Photo: Associated Press

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A US Air Force Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft is seen after it arrived at the Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu.
A US Air Force Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft is seen after it arrived at the Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu.
Photo: Associated Press

Rescuers have pulled a 101-year-old man alive from his ruined home a week after Nepal's earthquake claimed at least 7,300 lives. The government warned on Sunday the death toll will climb "much higher".

Funchu Tamang was rescued on Saturday from what was left of his house with only minor injuries to his ankle and hand, after the quake ripped through the impoverished country on April 25.

"He was brought to the district hospital in a helicopter. His condition is stable," police officer Arun Kumar Singh said from Nuwakot district, around 80 kilometres northwest of Kathmandu.


See teen's rescue in photos


Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Centre, part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, tweeted that a 101-year-old was rescued in Nuwakot’s Kimtang village.

Police also pulled three women from under rubble on Sunday in Sindhupalchowk, one of the worst-hit districts. They too were alive, although it was not immediately clear how long they had been trapped.

Funchu Tamang, 101, sits on a bed in a hospital in Nuwakot district on May 3 after his miraculous rescue. Photo: Agence France-Presse

The rescues were rare good news for the devastated country after officials on Saturday ruled out finding more survivors buried in the ruins and the focus shifted to trying to deliver aid to thousands of people in remote Himalayan areas.

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said the death toll was likely to jump once relief teams reach 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.

"The aftershocks have not receded and we expect the final casualty numbers to climb much higher," the minister said, as he appealed for hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign donations to help rebuild the country.


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International planes loaded with relief supplies have poured into landlocked Nepal, but there have been numerous reports of many getting stuck at Kathmandu’s small airport, and customs officials stopping trucks filled with aid from crossing into the country from neighbouring India.

UN’s head of humanitarian affairs Valerie Amos said she was worried that tonnes of foreign aid was being held up by red tape.

"I was extremely concerned to hear reports that customs was taking such a long time,” Amos she said on Saturday, saying she had asked Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to speed up customs clearance for aid materials.

Kathmandu's lifeline threatened

But as one problem is solved, others crop up.

TribhuvanInternationalAirport has been closed to heavy planes over concern about the condition of the single runway, said Birendra Prasad Shrestha, the airport’s manager.

"We have issued a notice saying that aircraft with a total weight exceeding 196 tonnes will not be allowed to land at Kathmandu airport," Shrestha said.

"There are no visible cracks in the runway but there have been so many tremors recently that we have to take precautions - we don't know what's happening below the surface.

"This runway is the only lifeline for Kathmandu - if it goes, everything goes."

Climbing firms Sunday called off their Everest spring expeditions, after the quake-triggered avalanche killed 18 on the world’s highest peak.

"With ongoing aftershocks and tremors we can’t continue expeditions," said two-time Everest summiteer Dawa Steven Sherpa of Kathmandu-based Asian Trekkers.

 

 

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