SA couple stranded in Nepal finally safe

Mike Sherman and Kate Ahrends were united with Gift of the Givers after they struggled for days to get help.

South Africans Mike Sherman and Kate Ahrends were stranded in Langang, Nepal following the deadly earthquake.  They are now safe. Picture: Supplied.

NEPAL - Two South Africans who were stranded in Langang when an earthquake hit Nepal last week have had their first proper meal and slept in the same camp as fellow South Africans.

Mike Sherman and Kate Ahrends were united with the aid group Gift of the Givers after they struggled for days to get help.

The 7.9 magnitude quake has killed more than 6,000 people and thousands have been injured.

The death toll could rise further. Bodies are still being pulled from the debris of ruined buildings, while rescue workers have not been able to reach some remote areas.

The Nepalese government put the number of injured at more than 14,350.

The couple says they are just happy to be alive after being stuck in Langtang for several days watching how villages have been destroyed and people being killed.

Ahrends says she already spoke to her parents and her mother is overwhelmed with joy that her daughter is safe.

"It was a week ago but I feels like a year ago, I had no sense of time."

The two say they now want to stay if possible to give back to the community for all they have done to rescue them.

Sherman's mother Sue says she couldn't be happier that her son is unharmed and in the care of fellow countrymen.

Two other South Africans who were hiking in the mountains, when the disaster hit, have decided to continue with their traveling and not to join the Gift of the Givers.

Australian sisters have also been assisted by the South African aid group after their attempts to seek help at the country' embassy in Kathmandu failed.

Meanwhile, the Gift of the Givers' doctors have five surgeries scheduled at the Kirtipur hospital today.

WATCH: SA couple survive earthquake.

THOUSANDS STILL MISSING

Thousands of people were still missing in Nepal on Friday as food and help began to trickle through to those stranded in remote areas.

In the capital Kathmandu, many unclaimed bodies were being quickly cremated because of the need to avert disease and reduce the stench of corpses in areas where buildings had collapsed.

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

Many of the dead could be migrant workers from neighbouring India, local officials said.

The head of the European Union delegation in Nepal said up to 1,000 Europeans were still unaccounted for, mostly around popular trekking routes.

Officials said it was hard to trace the missing because many backpackers do not register with their embassies.

The number of people unaccounted for from France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands is 371, according to checks Reuters made with these governments, while all Irish citizens, Croatians and Romanians have been traced. Other European nations have yet to provide an updated figure for how many of their citizens are unaccounted for.

Army helicopters have air-dropped instant noodles and biscuits to remote communities but people need rice and other ingredients to cook a proper meal, he said.

Many Nepalis have been sleeping in the open since the quake, with survivors afraid to return to their homes because of powerful aftershocks. According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

Information Minister Minendra Rijal said the government would provide $1,000 in immediate assistance to the families of those killed, as well as $400 for cremation or burial.

The UN said 8 million of Nepal's 28 million people were affected, with at least 2 million needing tents, water, food and medicines over the next three months.

Additional reporting by Reuters.