1,000 Europeans missing after Himalayan tragedy

Updated 01 May 2015

1,000 Europeans missing after Himalayan tragedy

KATMANDU: One thousand EU citizens are still unaccounted for in Himalayan Nepal, diplomats said Friday, almost a week after a massive earthquake that has claimed more than 6,300 lives and left survivors desperate for aid.
The Europeans had mostly been climbing in the avalanche-hit Everest region and trekking in the remote Langtang range near the epicenter of the quake that ripped up infrastructure and left tens of thousands homeless.
“They are missing but we don’t know what their status is,” EU ambassador to Nepal Rensje Teerink told reporters in the devastated capital Katmandu, confirming that 12 EU citizens were also known to have died.
Another EU official said on condition of anonymity that the majority were likely to be found safe, but given the difficulty of the terrain and poor communications, their whereabouts were currently unknown.
Concern over the missing underscores the mammoth task facing rescue and relief teams struggling to reach mountainous districts cut off by Nepal’s deadliest quake in more than 80 years.
Desperate survivors living at ground zero have complained they felt abandoned to their fate after losing their loved ones and livelihoods in the disaster.
“The scale and devastation wreaked by the earthquake and the aftershocks would have challenged any government. The Nepal government is leading the response effort and has deployed its available resources,” UN aid chief Valerie Amos told reporters Friday.
While the rescue of two survivors reinvigorated the search for further signs of life in the ruins of Katmandu, the Red Cross warned of “total devastation” in far-flung areas.
Six days on from the 7.8-magnitude quake, authorities put the number of dead in Nepal at 6,204 while around 100 more were killed in neighboring India and China.
Eighteen were killed when a quake-triggered avalanche roared over Everest base camp where scores were gathered for the start of the climbing season.
The popular Langtang trekking route was also hit by an avalanche on Tuesday. But the full extent of the destruction wrought by Saturday’s quake was still emerging, especially in the Sindhupalchowk region, northeast of Katmandu, where the sense of desperation was mounting.
“One of our teams that returned from Chautara in Sindhupalchowk district reported that 90 percent of the homes are destroyed,” said Jagan Chapagain, Asia head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
“The hospital has collapsed, and people are digging through the rubble with their hands in the hope that they might find family members who are still alive.”
AFP journalists in another part of Sindhupalchowk saw utter devastation.
“Almost every house in my village is destroyed, and 20 people died. We lost our cattle and our sheep,” said Kumar Ghorasainee, amid the ruins of his hometown of Melamchi.
The 33-year-old English teacher said the school had collapsed and there was nowhere for the children to go.
“No one has come to help us — the cars and the aid trucks just drive by ... How will we manage now?”
In Melamchi, shops and restaurants were closed and streets were mainly deserted.
In nearby rice-farming communities, almost all the houses had been so severely damaged that they were no longer habitable, and locals were sleeping in makeshift tents.
Although international relief organizers say the operation to reach rural areas is intensifying, people in Melamchi had received nothing.
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NEPAL TEMBLOR AT A GLANCE

• 6,204 people are known to have died in Nepal alone
• The WHO said 1,400 had died in Sindupalchowk district
• A further 13,932 have been injured across the country
• 18 climbers died at Mt. Everest base camp when the quake sparked an avalanche
• Two Americans, an Australian, a Japanese and a Chinese national were among the victims on the mountain
• 75 people were killed in India
• In China, 25 lost their lives, according to the ministry of civil
affairs in Tibet
• A British dual national, who lived in Hong Kong, also died
• The United Nations estimates that eight million people have been affected
• 2.8 million Nepalese were displaced, according to the world body
• More than 3.5 million people are estimated to be in need of food assistance, the UN said
• And UNICEF estimates that 1.7 million children live in the worst-hit areas
• The Nepal Red Cross Society said it had almost exhausted its relief stocks which were sufficient for 19,000 families
• Rescuers from more than 20 countries have been searching for survivors while $22 million in donations from UN member countries and private donors has been received so far, the world body said.
• Britain has promised $15 million in total
• $12.5 million has been pledged by the United States
• And $15 million is being released from the UN’s emergency fund
• The UN has also made an appeal for $415 million while UNICEF wants to raise $50.35 million
• The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization has appealed for $8 million for farmers
• The UN said 80 tons of of emergency items including tents, blankets and health kits were being distributed
• The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says 1,719 personnel across 54 international teams from 22 countries are supporting the relief effort
• 13 of those teams, with 585 staff, are from India
• Nepal’s government said 130,033 houses had been destroyed, according to the UN
• Around 30,000 of those houses were in Nuwakot district
• And the International Red Cross estimated that 40,000 homes were destroyed in neighbouring Sindupalchowk
•Some 85,856 homes were damaged across Nepal
•OCHA said that up to 90 percent of health facilities in four districts were severely damaged
•And some 16,000 schools were damaged, the agency added
•Business research IHS estimates that reconstruction costs could top $5 billion or around 20 percent of the country’s GDP.

-Agence France Presse


Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

Updated 03 August 2020

Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

  • The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago
  • Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience

MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one prepared at the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development.
“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” industry minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by TASS news agency.
“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Saturday said the Gamaleya vaccine had “completed clinical trials” and that documents were being prepared to register it with the state.
Another vaccine, developed by Siberia-based Vektor lab, is currently undergoing clinical trials and two more will begin human testing within the next two months, Murashko said.
Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Gamaleya’s vaccine employs the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.
The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago, with specialists criticizing the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience, particularly with advanced technology like viral vector.
Some Russian officials have boasted that the country will be the first to come up with the vaccine, even comparing it to the space race to produce the first satellite in the Soviet era.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.