NZ's Nepalese community desperate for information

The Nepalese community in New Zealand is desperately trying to get whatever information they can about loved ones caught up in the earthquake.

With scenes of devastation filling television screens, the Nepalese community in New Zealand is desperate for information from families back home.

"Everybody's nervous and so scared," says Uma Giri of the Nepalese Society of Wellington.

The magnitude 7.8 quake struck on Saturday evening New Zealand time. It was centered outside the capital, Kathmandu, and has killed more than 1,900 people and destroyed infrastructure, homes and historical buildings.

Communication in the affected area is still a major issue.

"I tried to call my brother. I text him, but I didn't get any reply and I got more scared. And I came back home and I tried calling him again. And after calling lots of time, he just said 'hello, hello.' So I heard that he's alright. Otherwise I was so worried," Ms Giri says.

With aftershocks continuing throughout the night, New Zealanders in Kathmandu say many locals are too scared to go back indoors.

"Lots and lots of people walking. A lot of people couldn't stay in their houses overnight because they didn't feel safe, so there were people out camping on the streets," Jan Hide, a New Zealander in Kathmandu told ONE News.

"Everybody just congregated out in the middle of the road and so it was difficult for emergency services to get through as well."

Wanaka mountain guiding company Adventure Consultants Wanaka have a team of 14, including five Kiwis, part way up Mt Everest. All are safe, but an avalanche following the quake has left two of their Nepalese staff dead and their base camp significantly damaged.

"It's an incredibly tragic thing that's happened," says Steve Moffat of Adventure Consultants Wanaka. "The whole of Nepal will be reeling from this and it's going to take a long time to get things back in order and to get life functioning normally again over there."

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says his ministry has made contact with more than 100 New Zealanders in the area. And while staff are continuing to confirm the well-being of others, he's warning that given the scale of the disaster, it could be some time before all New Zealanders are accounted for.

For now our Government has committed an initial $1 million to the aid effort. Prime Minister John Key says it's to be distributed largely through the Red Cross "so it can get on the ground very, very quickly."

It's welcome news for the Nepalese community here who are desperate to help their loved ones in whatever way they can.

Mr Key says once the initial emergency is over, New Zealand will look to offer secondary assistance and to send people who gained experience dealing with the Christchurch earthquake, such as former mayor Bob Parker.

Nepalese in NZ are desperately trying to get information from loved ones caught up in the earthquake Source: 1 NEWS


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