A 101-year-old man has been pulled alive from the rubble of his house in Nepal, seven days after it collapsed in a deadly earthquake, police say.
Funchu Tamang was rescued on Saturday with only minor injuries and airlifted to a district hospital, local police officer Arun Kumar Singh said.
“He was brought to the district hospital in a helicopter. His condition is stable,” Mr Singh said.
“He has injuries on his left ankle and hand. His family is with him.”
Mr Tamang was found in Nuwakot district about 80 kilometres north west of Kathmandu.
Police also rescued three women from under rubble on Sunday in Sindupalchowk, one of the districts worst hit by the quake, although it was not immediately known how long they had been trapped.
This was a calamity of enormous proportions and the relief operations have been a challenge given the resources we have.Nepalese information minister Minendra Rijal
One had been buried by a landslide while the other two were under the rubble of a collapsed house.
“They are being taken to hospital for treatment,” police officer Suraj Khadka said.
On Saturday, Nepal’s government had ruled out finding more survivors buried in the ruins of Kathmandu.
Multiple teams of rescuers from more than 20 countries have been using sniffer dogs and heat-seeking equipment to find survivors in the rubble of the capital.
The government said the death toll from the earthquake had reached 7,040 and 14,123 people had been injured.
A police team from Nepal pulled out the bodies of about 50 people, including some foreign trekkers, from an avalanche-hit area on Saturday, officials said.
None of the bodies have been identified, deputy superintendent of police in the northern district of Rasuwa, Pravin Pokharel, said.
Race against time to distribute aid
Kathmandu’s tiny international airport has been operating round the clock to allow aid flights to land, but a shortage of parking space and damage to the runway has meant some aircraft have been turned away.
The manager at the airport said large planes carrying relief supplies had been banned from landing because of pot holes on the runway.
“This runway is the only lifeline for Kathmandu,” airport manager Birendra Prasad Shrestha said.
“If it goes, everything goes.”
Authorities announced that larger aircraft of 196 tonnes and over will not be allowed to land or take off because of the condition of the runway.
This would mean a 747-size plane, full of emergency essentials, would not be able to get into Nepal.
Some officials have denied reports of cracks appearing on the runway, saying the move to stop larger planes from landing is simply a precautionary measure.
More than a week after the magnitude-7.8 earthquake, large swathes of the Himalayan nation have yet to receive any outside help as aid workers battle landslides, avalanches and a helicopter shortage to reach communities in some of the world’s most remote terrain.
Relief workers have said it is now a race against time to get desperately needed shelter, food and clean water to survivors in the far-flung mountain villages flattened by the disaster before the monsoon rains begin in June.
What we do know is that there is a lot more need out there than the places we are able to get to. Our priority now is really to try to reach those people, get immediate assistance to them.UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos
But many of the worst-hit communities are tiny villages perched on the side of mountains that are inaccessible by road and where it is difficult or impossible for helicopters to land.
The country’s poor infrastructure and a weak national government beset by in-fighting among coalition partners have compounded the difficulties of mounting a vast emergency relief operation in the world’s highest mountains.
“One of the big challenges of working in Nepal, and we knew that this would happen should a major earthquake happen here, is the nature of the terrain,” the UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in Kathmandu.
“There are a lot of villages which are on the top of hills, they’re quite small villages but there are no real roads that go up to those villages, and we know that there are quite a few areas like that because the epicentre is in a mountainous region.
“It’s not been possible to land even small helicopters [in some places] because there have been landslides.”
Indian Air Force pilot Avik Abhijit S Bali described how he had to abandon efforts to rescue survivors from a remote village in Gorkha, one of the worst-hit districts, because he could not land.
“We tried for 20 minutes but there was no possibility of landing in a village that was on a slope and covered in debris from collapsed houses,” he said.
The Nepal government has said it faces a severe shortage of both helicopters and heavy machinery to clear roads blocked by landslides.
The army has just seven helicopters of its own and while India has lent the country another six for rescue and relief efforts it desperately needs more help to transport aid materials.
“This was a calamity of enormous proportions and the relief operations have been a challenge given the resources we have,” information minister Minendra Rijal said.
“We are putting all our resources into increasing the effectiveness of our relief efforts.
“We have deployed people to reach every affected district by air, road or even on foot.”
90 per cent of homes destroyed in worst-affected areas
With authorities saying up to 90 per cent of homes in the two worst-affected districts have been destroyed, the United Nations said providing shelter was the priority.
It estimates more than eight million survivors are in need of aid, and says it has received reports of desperate survivors clamouring to get on to helicopters evacuating the badly wounded from rural areas and forcing relief trucks off the road.
“Remarkably, few modern, concrete, buildings have been affected in the capital,” said Nepal expert and former UN official John Bevan in a blog post this week.
“In the countryside, however, most buildings are old, made of mud or weak bricks and stand on vertiginous slopes.
“These are the remote hill villages which it would appear have borne the main brunt of the quake.”
Ms Amos said there had been reports of some areas getting repeated aid deliveries, while others had still received nothing.
“What we do know is that there is a lot more need out there than the places we are able to get to,” she said.
“Our priority now is really to try to reach those people, get immediate assistance to them.”
The government of landlocked Nepal has also faced criticism for holding up foreign relief deliveries at customs, with reports of aid trucks being turned away at the border with India because they did not have the correct documentation.