Nepal quake victims attribute prayer to survival

Many are now taking shelter at places of worship where they’ve set up camps.

Cleanup operations underway in Nepal. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

NEPAL - Relief organisation the Gift of the Givers has visited the Shyambhu Buddhist temple in Kathmandu in Nepal where survivors of the devastating earthquake have told Eyewitness News they believe prayer is the only reason they survived.

Kathmandu was again hit by an aftershock in the early hours of this morning, six days after the quake that's claimed 6,200 lives.

Disposal of the hundreds of bodies still being found six days after the 7.9 magnitude quake devastated the Himalayan nation of 28 million people was becoming a problem for officials, who have ordered immediate cremations.

"Morgues are full beyond capacity and we have been given instruction to incinerate bodies immediately after they are pulled out," said Raman Lal, an Indian paramilitary force official working in coordination with Nepali forces.

Many are now taking shelter at places of worship where they've set up camps and are too afraid to sleep in buildings.

More than 1,000 people were affected at the Shyambhu Buddhist temple.

When the Gift of the Givers team visited the collapsed houses at the temple residents asked for food and tents but the team is still waiting for aid which is expected to arrive later this afternoon.

Women have told Eyewitness News how they frantically rushed out of their homes when the quake hit on Saturday and credit their faith as the sole reason they survived.

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UNPRECEDENTED SCALE

Home ministry official Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said that, even though the 1934 quake was more powerful, there were fewer people living in the Kathmandu valley then.

"The scale of reconstruction will be unprecedented," Dhakal said. "We have still not even been able to assess the damage in remote areas, which have been completely devastated."Officials have said the chances of finding any more survivors were fading, even though a boy and a woman had on Thursday been pulled from the rubble where they had lain trapped for five days.

As rescuers slowly started reaching outlying areas, witnesses reported seeing 70 to 80 percent of buildings severely damaged in Chautara, northeast of Kathmandu towards the border with China's Tibet.

Anger over the pace of the rescue has flared in some areas, with Nepalis accusing the government of being too slow to distribute international aid that has flooded into the country.

It has yet to reach many in need, particularly in areas hard to reach given the quake damage, poor weather and aftershocks.

Tensions between foreigners and Nepalis desperate to be evacuated have also surfaced. In Ashrang village in Gorkha, one of the worst-hit districts about four hours by road west of Kathmandu, hundreds of villagers were living outdoors with little food and water even as boxes of biscuits, juice and sacks of rice and wheat were stored in a nearby government office.

Nepal is also appealing to foreign governments for more helicopters help the 20 at work in rescue operations. China was expected to send more, home ministry official Dhakal said.

In the Himalayas, climbing is set to reopen on Mount Everest next week after damage caused by avalanches triggered by the quake is repaired, although many have abandoned their ascents.

A massive avalanche killed 18 climbers and sherpa mountain guides at the Everest base camp.

Additional reporting by Reuters.