Red Cross raises Nepal aid appeal to $123 million

A Nepalese earthquake survivor carries a sack of rice during a food distribution in Jaharsingh Pauwa, Nepal on May 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
A Nepalese earthquake survivor carries a sack of rice during a food distribution in Jaharsingh Pauwa, Nepal on May 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

KATHMANDU (AFP) - The Red Cross Saturday ramped up its appeal for aid to disaster-hit Nepal, requesting US$93 million (S$122.82 million) in assistance after two earthquakes in less than three weeks killed nearly 8,500 and left thousands homeless.

Relief teams have been working for weeks to provide water, food, shelter and medical assistance after the first, 7.8-magnitude quake hit on April 25, flattening whole villages and leaving thousands without shelter with just weeks to go until the monsoon rains.

"We are still in full emergency mode - the task at hand remains expanding our response while also adapting to meet emerging needs," said Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"What we are doing, no matter how appreciated it is, it is not yet matching the scale and magnitude of the problem that we face," Sy told reporters in Kathmandu.

The humanitarian agency revised its initial request for US$35 million after a second, 7.3-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday, triggering panic in Kathmandu and devastating remote villages in the country's mountainous northeastern region.

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake hit on Saturday, about 76 km east south east of Kathmandu, at a shallow depth of 10 km, the US Geological Survey said.

Tuesday's quake "exacerbated the situation that we found at the beginning... (with) areas which were not really affected becoming more affected," Sy told AFP in an interview.

"These kind of disasters, they leave also many invisible wounds. People are traumatised, people are scared, people are really shocked," he said.

Aid agencies have warned of a race against time to provide shelter and bring relief to victims before the approaching monsoon triggers landslides and blocks access to quake-hit villages located along the Himalayan nation's hills and mountains.

The Nepalese government, which has faced criticism over the speed of its response to the disaster, has said it was overwhelmed by the scale of the April 25 earthquake, the deadliest to hit the country in more than 80 years.