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Earthquake claims life of one Estonian

Nepali maavärin põhjustas Džomolungma nõlvadel laviine, milles võis kohaliku meedia teatel hukkuda üle 65 mägironija. Baaslaagris mäe jalamil viibis maavärina ajal ligi 1000 inimest. Päästjad püüavad vigastatuid helikopteritega minema toimetada. PHOTO: SCANPIX

By last night the death of one Estonian was confirmed in the Nepali earthquake. Whereabouts of four Estonian citizens in Nepal were not known. At the moment, foreign ministry is aware of 30 Estonian citizens currently in Nepal. Regarding 25 of them the ministry has been confirmed that their lives have been spared.

The ministry said they have been able to contact those closest to the person that perished – a member of tourist group organised by Sandberg Reisid (Travels). The group travelled to Nepal on April 21st and was hiking in Langtang Valley.

The foreign ministry will help relatives regarding transportation of the dead body home to Estonia. Also, as the need arises, other Estonian citizens will be assisted to leave Nepal. On location Estonian honorary consul in Nepal Nava Raj Dahal is actively involved, having already met several of the Estonian citizens that have been rescued.

At their extraordinary meeting yesterday, carried out via means of communication, Estonian government decided to allocate €91,300 from reserves to send a rescue team to Nepal.  

The mission is aimed to participate in UN-coordinated rescue work, performing searches and rescues in the area affected by the earthquake using special equipment. If possible, they will also be supporting evacuation of Estonian citizens from the affected region, said the governmental communication bureau.

The rescue team is composed of 15 individuals, including a construction engineer and medical support. The mission is intended to last up to 12 days and will work in cooperation with the Finnish team, which is organising air transport from Kuopio to Kathmandu and back.

According to Sandberg Reisid representative Kaarel Liivamäe who has been in contact with the group currently in Nepal, they told him the earthquake triggered falling of rocks, caused cracks in the terrain and a mudslide. «One traveller tragically perished,» said Mr Liivamäe. As far as he knows, no Estonian has suffered serious injuries.

Two tour guides are busy exchanging flight tickets. At the moment, it is unclear when the Estonians might be able to come home. Mr Liivamäe said the telephone connection is bad and he does not know if air connection is available at all.

Estonian honorary consul In Nepal Nava Raj Dahal told Postimees he met five Estonians yesterday who arrived in Kathmandu. «They are all okay. Still, one member of their group perished, so naturally they were worried and in shock,» said Mr Dahal, adding that two of these people have been to Nepal 10–11 times; the rest of the Estonians were there for the first time and therefore more frightened. Yesterday, the Estonians spent the night at a hotel in Kathmandu. The honorary consul was hopeful that the rest of the group would be transported to Kathmandu today.

Sandberg Reisid sent the group of novice hikers on their journey on April 12st. The maximal night-camp height was to be 3,850 metres and the trip was supposed to last 13 days.

Both foreign minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus and Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas extended their condolences to those closest to the person who perished.

According to Latvian foreign ministry, 41 Latvian citizens were in Nepal during the extremely strong quake this Saturday. Four of these have not been contacted until now.

China is sending charter planes to fetch their 683 tourists. Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said Canberra had contacted over 200 of the 549 Australians in Nepal. According to foreign minister Murray McCully of New Zealand, over 110 of their citizens in Nepal have been contacted.

Japanese government opened a contact bureau in Kathmandu in order to help find the approximately 1,100 Japanese in Nepal during the quake. 

It is assessed Nepal hosted some 300,000 tourists from all over the world during the quake. Tourism officials say it is impossible to even guess how many of the foreigners may have lost their lives.