Embassy staff are visiting hospitals and aid centres in earthquake-stricken Nepal in an effort to track down the hundreds of missing British expats and visitors in the small Himalayan country.
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So far, the death toll has reached almost 4,000, with a further 7,000 injured and 100,000 homeless after the 7.9 scale quake and aftershocks struck at the weekend.
The massive earthquake triggered huge avalanches on Everest and other mountains, where hundreds of climbers and Sherpas were attempting ascents.
Nepal is a small country with a population of just 350,000, so dealing with a natural disaster ion this scale severely stretches the limits of emergency services.
Many countries have offered aid and manpower to help with the aftermath of the disaster, including £5 million from Britain, which includes deploying specialist disaster workers and sniffer dogs.
The worry for thousands of people is although many buildings are still standing, the earthquake rocked their foundations and they could collapse at any time, especially if another heavy aftershock strikes.
The quake seems to have devastated one part of the country, with most of the casualties coming from the Kathmandu Valley, while other towns and cities are reporting only light damage and few casualties.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is urging travellers to stay away from Kathmandu and Nepal unless they have urgent business.
“Not only is accommodation and travel a problem due to the earthquake, but the emergency services need every available bed and resource,” said a spokesman. “The other issue is what could happen if another earthquake strikes.”
Travellers should contact their agents to make alternative arrangements, explained a spokesman for travel agency trade body ABTA.
“The options are to receive a full refund, transfer to a different destination or to delay the trip,” said the spokesman.
Anyone travelling independently should contact their travel insurance company to see if they can claim cancellation charges.
ABTA said this may only apply to a small number of travellers.
The effects of the earthquake were not confined to Nepal. Strong tremors were felt in Dhaka, the capital of neighbouring Bangladesh and the north-western states of India, although no damage or casualties were reported.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh government has banned motorcycle riding in the capital due to political demonstrations in the city.
The FCO warns expats and travellers to keep photo ID on them at all times and to stay away from large groups, as demonstrations can turn violent.
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