Nepal Earthquake Updates Obama Calls Nepalese Premier, Pledges U.S. Aid

LIVE UPDATES: One Israeli still unaccounted for in Nepal; earthquake death toll rises to over 5,000; IDF field hospital treats first 60 patients; Haaretz's Yaniv Kubovich reports live from the ground.

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Haaretz
A rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp, Nepal, April 26, 2015.
A rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp, Nepal, April 26, 2015.Credit: AP
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Haaretz

The death toll from Nepal's earthquake rose to over 5,000 on Tuesday, three days after the massive quake ripped across this Himalayan nation, leaving tens of thousands shell-shocked and sleeping in the streets.

More movement was visible on the streets as people who had spent days in terror since Saturday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck ventured out, to buy essentials or to go to work despite the fear provoked by numerous aftershocks.

Latest updates:

10:48 P.M. IDF field hospital treats 98 patients on first day

A woman holds a sign at Ben-Gurion Airport asking about Or Assraf's whereabouts.Credit: Olivier Fittousi

The Israeli army field hospital in Nepal has treated 98 patients on Wednesday, performed three life-saving operations and one Caesarian section. (Haaretz)

Or AssrafCredit: Courtesy

10:20 P.M. Obama calls Nepalese PM, pledges U.S. aid

U.S. President Barack Obama called Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala Wednesday to offer condolences and promise aid, spokesman Josh Earnest says.

"The president pledged that the United States will do all it can to help the people of Nepal in this time of need," Earnest says.

A USAID disaster response team on Wednesday reached the hard-hit city of Bhaktapur to work with the Nepali army and members of the community to find people who might be trapped, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. The U.S. military also sent a 20-member humanitarian assistance team to support the team.

In addition, a USAID airlift of emergency shelter materials is headed to Nepal, she added. It consists of 700 rolls of plastic sheeting to help an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 people and is expected to land in Kathmandu early on Thursday.

6:48 P.M. Death toll from quake-triggered Everest avalanche rises to 19

The death toll from an avalanche on Mount Everest triggered by last weekend's massive earthquake in Nepal has risen to 19, including two climbers from the United States and one each from China, Australia and Japan, mountaineering officials said Wednesday.

The other 14 victims were Nepalese Sherpa guides, the Nepal Mountaineering Association said.

The avalanche swept across Everest's basecamp area, injuring dozens of people, after Saturday's magnitude-7.8 earthquake. More than 5,000 people were killed elsewhere by the quake.

The association identified the American victims as Daniel Fredinburg, a Google executive, and Marisa Eve Girawong, a medic from New Jersey. It said Ge Zhenfang was from China, Renu Fotedar from Australia and Hiroshi Yamagata from Japan.

It said only 10 of the 14 Sherpa guides have been identified so far. (AP)

4:32 P.M. IDF field hospital treats first 60 patients

60 patients have been treated so far in the IDF field hospital in Nepal, the delegation commander, Col. Yoram Laredo, told reporters. Some Israelis were suffering from light injuries, he added, but were not treated by the IDF. The Israeli delegation also assists in rescue missions but Laredo said rescue operations were difficult due to poor weather conditions.

"Our understanding is that the chance of finding survivors are getting slimmer [as time passes]," Laredo said. When asked about the cost of the military delegation to Israeli taxpayers, the commander said he has no knowledge of the amount and that he was only given a mission, which he was trying "to carry out in the best and most efficient was I can." (Yaniv Kubovich)

3:19 P.M. Foreign Ministry changes 22-year-old Or Assraf's status to "unaccounted for," rather than "missing" as it previously announced.

2:19 P.M. Or Assraf, of Kibbutz Lehavim, is the only Israeli in Nepal yet to establish contact, Israel's Foreign Ministry says. (Barak Ravid)

2:00 P.M. Three of six missing Israelis establish contact, in good condition

Three of the six Israelis who have so far been unaccounted for text messages Wednesday afternoon indicating that they were in good condition near the region of the frozen lakes, and that they had been on a hike at the time of the earthquake and therefore unable to make contact.

Five to 10 helicopters took off to the mountain regions on Wednesday to find the 30-40 Israeli travelers in need of rescue. Two of the Israelis are in need medical care, but their condition has been described as light.

1:55 P.M. Rescue helicopters taking advantage of good weather to enter remote mountain villages

Nepalese rescue helicopters are taking advantage of breaks in the rain to bring out the injured from remote mountain villages where aid is only beginning to trickle in, four days after the massive earthquake.

A rescue mission on Wednesday landed in the village of Darkha, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of the capital, Kathmandu, and unloaded boxes of relief aid supplies. Nepalese soldiers disembarked and carried back on a stretcher the 69-year-old Ek Bahadur Thapa and others in need of treatment.

He suffered leg injuries and has had to wait for medical care since Saturday's earthquake.

The government says more than 10,000 people are in need to medical attention. (AP)

10:49 A.M. 10 Israelis rescued, six have yet to make contact

Six Israelis in Nepal have yet to make contact since the earthquake, Israel's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday morning.

Ten stranded Israelis were rescued in the Langtang area in a joint effort by the Nepalese Army, Israel's foreign ministry and the insurance companies. The hikers were evacuated by helicopter to a Nepalese military base.

Two Israelis who had been hiking in the Mt. Everest area, who had not made contact the second aftershock, managed to contact their families through WhatsApp.

The foreign ministry said that 30 Israelis are still waiting to be evacuated. Seventeen are still in the Langtang area and another 10 are near Mount Everest. The foreign ministry also said that China had evacuated two Israelis near the Tibetan border. Three private helicopters and two belonging to the Nepalese area were operating Wednesday morning to find stranded travelers.

9:44 A.M. Aid delivery in Kathmandu delayed after hundreds block traffic

About 200 people have blocked traffic in Kathmandu to protest the slow pace of aid delivery.

The protesters faced off with police and there were minor scuffles but no arrests were made.

One protester says they haven't received any relief.

"We are hungry, we haven't had anything to drink. We haven't been able to sleep. I have a 7-year-old child who is sleeping in the open. It's getting cold and people are getting pneumonia," he said.

He accused the government of not doing enough. (AP)

8:55 P.M. Israeli field hospital opens, to treat 200 people per day

The IDF delegation to Nepal opened its field hospital early Wednesday morning. The hospital is equipped to provide medical care for 200 people per day.

The field hospital will include 60 beds for hospitalization and treatment of the casualties. Two operating theaters will operate simultaneously, in contrast to the previous occasion an Israeli team was there, when only one theater could function at any given time. The team will have X-ray and ultrasound machines, as well as a laboratory for testing blood.

One tent will contain incubators and will serve as a premature baby unit, dealing with the multiple premature births that are expected. It will also house the mothers of the babies. (Gili Cohen) Read full story here

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