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Thursday, April 30, 2015, 15:39

1.7 million Nepal children need aid: UNICEF

By Agencies

 1.7 million Nepal children need aid: UNICEF
A Nepalese woman and her child leave Kathmandu for their home town by bus after a recent earthquake, in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 30, 2015. (AP Photo / Manish Swarup)

KATHMANDU - Around 1.7 million children are now in urgent need of aid in the worst-hit areas by the massive earthquake in Nepal, according to UNICEF.

UNICEF revealed the figure as it launched a US$50.35 million appeal to get humanitarian assistance to children and their families amid growing risk of disease outbreaks.

A 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25, 2015, has killed more than 5,000 people and injured more than 10,000. It has also driven tens of thousands of people into open spaces and temporary camps in the Kathmandu valley and the rest of the worst-affected districts.

It was a rare bit of good news, crowds cheered Thursday as a teenage boy was pulled, dazed and dusty, from the wreckage of a seven-story Kathmandu building that collapsed around him five days ago when an enormous earthquake shook Nepal.

The boy, who has not been identified, was carried out in a stretcher. His face was covered in dust, and medics had put an IV drop into his arm. A blue brace had been placed around his neck. He appeared stunned, and his eyes blinked in the sunlight.

An American disaster response team had been working for a few hours to try to free the trapped boy.

"He's not too far down, but the floors have collapsed and he'd pancaked between them,'' Andrew Olvera, who is heading the team from the US Agency for International Development, said shortly before the boy was freed.

Police said the official death toll in Nepal had reached 5,489 as of late Wednesday. That figure did not include the 19 people killed at Mount Everest - five foreign climbers and 14 Nepalese Sherpa guides - when the quake unleashed an avalanche at base camp.

"The lives of so many children have been torn apart and they are in desperate need of life-saving support, including clean water, shelter and sanitation," said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Nepal Representative.

More than 80 percent of health facilities in the five most severely affected districts have been extensively damaged.

The first supplies of food aid began reaching remote, earthquake-shattered mountain villages in Nepal, while thousands clamored to board buses out of Kathmandu, either to check on rural relatives or for fear of spending yet another night in the damaged capital.

Frustration over the slow delivery of humanitarian aid boiled over in a protest in the city, with about 200 people facing off with police and blocking traffic.

The protest was comparatively small and no demonstrators were detained. Helicopters finally brought food, temporary shelter and other aid to hamlets north of Kathmandu in the mountainous Gorkha District near the epicenter of Saturday's 7.9-magnitude quake. Women greeted the delivery with repeated cries of "We are hungry!''

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