Search and rescue operations are underway in Nepal today after a 7.8 earthquake caused major devastation across the nation.

 

UPDATE 7.00pm: The earthquake that shook Nepal yesterday was also felt in nearby India.

There have been several reports of deaths, injuries and infrastructure damage in parts such as Bihar, Uttar, Pradesh and West Bengal.

DFAT is advising Australians intending to travel in affected areas in India to check with tour operators and ensure services are operating as normal.

Meanwhile, Nepal was hit by a 6.7 magnitude aftershock this afternoon just outside the Kathmandu region.

The US Geological Survey says the aftershock registered at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres.

Officials now estimate the death toll to be over 2,000, making it the worst natural disaster in the Himalayan nation is more than 80 years.

 

UPDATE 2.30pm: G Adventures has confirmed to KarryOn through a tweet that “at this time all travellers and staff in Nepal are safe and accounted for”.

The tour operator also said it is working with ground operations to provide support with onward travel, but stressed that communication is “currently very difficult”.

 

UPDATE 1.30pm: Nepalese officials say the estimated death toll has increased from 1,400 to around 1,800.

Rescue crews are racing to pull survivors from rubble after the powerful earthquake shook and destroyed homes, buildings, temples and ancient sites.

According to the Nepal Home Ministry, 1,805 people have been killed.

The country’s Financial Minister, Ram Sharan Mahat said another 1,000 are injured.

Tour operators are scrambling to get in contact with leaders and travellers in the country.

So far, the Intrepid Group has confirmed to KarryOn that all its tour leaders have been contacted and all travellers accounted for and safe.

KarryOn is waiting to hear back from several other tour operators.

See below for more information on missing Australians.  

 

UPDATE 12.30am: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has confirmed operations at Kathmandu airport have resumed, but warned of delays and cancellations.

“The international airport at Kathmandu is open but flight schedules have been disrupted by the earthquake.”

DFAT

Australians seeking to depart Nepal are being urged to contact their airline for latest information on flight schedules.

DFAT also continues to advice Australians to exercise a “High degree of caution” in Nepal and to listen to local authorities for any updates.  

 

UPDATE 11.50am: The number of missing Australians has increased from previously reported three to dozens.

Friends and family members have started listing names of missing Australians on the Red Cross website.

So far names include Ballantyne Forder, 20, from Perth; Dianne Coburn, 59, and Liam Oliver, 18, from Victoria; Zachary Sheridan, 20, from Adelaide; a 43-year-old man and Hamish McKee, 21, from Canberra.

There’s also Cassandra Hare, 22 from Perth; Charles Winn, 41 from Sydney and more.

 

UPDATE 11.30am: The Intrepid Group – operator of Intrepid Travel, Gecko Adventures and Peregrine Adventures – has confirmed to KarryOn that the company has been in contact with all trips currently operating in Nepal and all travellers and leaders are accounted for and safe.

The tour operator said with aftershocks and limited communication in the region, it is focused on making onward arrangements for travellers on the ground and to establish contact with any travellers that may be in the region before or after a scheduled trip.

“Our primary concern has been to ensure the safety and welfare of all our travellers and staff. We are working closely with our local operations team to do all possible to that end.”

Intrepid Travel

 

UPDATE 11.00am: A Google executive, Dan Fredinburg, is among the 1,457 dead. A woman who identified herself as his youngest sister confirmed the news on Instagram.

She posted a picture of him climbing a mountain and in the caption said he suffered a major head injury an avalanche triggered by the quake.

The avalanche swept across Mount Everest after the quake. So far, it has claimed at least eight lives and an unspecified number of other people are missing and injured.

 

ORIGINAL STORY 9.00am: The earthquake struck on Saturday, 50 miles from the capital, Kathmandu.

Homes, temples and historic buildings are said to have been toppled by the major quake and authorities say there have been at least 1,457 deaths.

Hundreds are also reported as missing, including three of the 700 Australians who had registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as travelling in Nepal.

Red Cross says it is searching for a 59-year-old woman – Dianne Coburn – and an 18-year-old man, both from Melbourne.

Also missing is Ballantyne Forder, 20, from Perth.

Her sister, Amanda-Sue Markham, is using social media and news outlets for any information on the whereabouts of Ballantyne.

Ballantyne was in Nepal doing charity work at orphanages for seven weeks and was due to come home on 31 May.

“She’s been in Kathmandu and Pokhara but we don’t know where exactly she is right now.”

Amanda-Sue Markham told the Daily Telegraph

She said her family is trying to contact everyone possible for any information and are hoping she is okay.

Located between India and Tibet, Nepal is a popular tourist destination, particularly amongst adventurous Australians.

It is known for its hiking opportunities on the Himalayan mountains, which is a popular trekking site.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has changed its advice for the destination to ‘High degree of caution’ and asked travellers to follow instructions from local authorities and check with airlines, tour operators or hotels for the latest information.

“Initial reports indicate that damage has occurred in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Aftershocks are expected.  Travellers should expect disruption to telecommunications, transport and tourist infrastructure in affected areas.”

DFAT

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