Oxfam disaster specialists are deploying to Nepal to assist in the aftermath of the earthquake that has devastated the country and killed more than 1000 people.
Meanwhile, Oxfam’s team based in Nepal are rapidly assessing humanitarian need following the earthquake that struck an area between the capital Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara yesterday.
The international aid agency also intends to send teams from neighbouring India.
It is reported to be Nepal’s deadliest earthquake for more than 80 years.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the team of technical experts was flying from the UK with supplies to provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food supplies.
“Communication is currently very difficult. Telephone lines are down and the electricity has been cut off, making charging mobile phones difficult,” Dr Szoke said.
“The water is also cut off. The number of people killed is continuing to rise. Many of the old houses have been destroyed and at least one large apartment block has come down in Kathmandu.
“Given the closeness to the epicenter, Pokhara must also be badly affected.
“Oxfam is preparing to help provide clean water and emergency food. People are gathered in their thousands in open spaces and are scared, as there were several aftershocks.
“Oxfam staff in Nepal, along with thousands of others, are sleeping outside tonight in football fields and other open spaces because they are the safest place to be.”
The earthquake struck just after 4pm Australian EST Saturday. There were reports of tremors across the region, as far afield as Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
It’s reported the earthquake has caused extensive damage in the Himalayan nation.
Oxfam has been responding to floods and landslides in Nepal since 1993 and includes earthquake scenario planning in all contingency plans.
It has pre-existing agreements with suppliers as well as pre-positioned stocks.
In August last year, Oxfam launched a response to the landslides and floods that hit the Mid and Far Western districts of the country.