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Death Toll Rises in Nepal; At Least 17 Dead from Everest Avalanche; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 27, 2015 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: as the death toll in Nepal rises to 4,000, I ask the U.N.'s emergency relief coordinator what to

expect from far-flung villages and valleys.


VALERIE AMOS, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: . we urgently need to get the search and rescue teams in there. We need to get the rubble moved so

that we can see whether others are trapped in that rubble. And then we have to get aid to these people, who so desperately need it.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Plus anguish at the very top of the world, rescue helicopters airlift stranded survivors off Mt. Everest. But many are still

trapped or missing. I speak to a man who scaled the treacherous summit no less than 11 times.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

A nightmare in Nepal: this new drone video just in with a different look at the devastation wrought by Saturday's massive earthquake. Some 4,000

people are now dead, a number certain to climb even higher in the days to come.

The capital, Kathmandu, while still hit hard, appears to be in better shape than feared at first and now the real question is what is happening in the

villages near the epicenter, where rescue workers haven't yet been able to reach.

Aid is only just trickling in and many Nepalese terrified of aftershocks are still sleeping outside. One woman says she's been offered nothing so

far, not even a drop of water. And CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is already helping with some surgeries at Kathmandu's main hospital, managed to talk

to the country's president, who arrived earlier today unexpectedly to visit the wounded.




AMANPOUR: A calamity indeed. And in a moment we will hear from Valerie Amos, the top U.N. official on the humanitarian response. But first to

Kunda Dixit. He is the editor of the "Nepali Times" and he joined us by solar light from his Kathmandu home. He told me that the most part

communities have been left to fend for themselves and the aid that is getting in now faces an even bigger hurdle, getting it out to where it's

needed beyond the capital.


AMANPOUR: Kunda Dixit, welcome to the program.

You are in Kathmandu right now, yes?

KUNDA DIXIT, EDITOR, "NEPALI TIMES": Yes, Kathmandu, in the southern part of Kathmandu and --


AMANPOUR: And clearly in the dark, I think you got your own sort of jerry- rigged light. What is the state of basic services. Electricity's still out, water?

DIXIT: Yes, well, but we're used to that in Kathmandu because we have power shortages all the time. So this is something we're actually used to.

That's why we already have a solar system on our roof which is what's powering this light.

But in many parts of the city and the country, in fact, (INAUDIBLE) hasn't been (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: And do a lot of people have generators?


DIXIT: -- generators but now there's diesel shortage because not enough fuel is coming in from outside.

There's also water shortage (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: What are you seeing today sort of about three days or two days after the quake hit? What is the state of people's survival, the ability

to rescue people?

DIXIT: Well, last night was very bleak (ph). It was the second night people were spending outdoors in tents and some didn't even have tents, in

school yards, in parks, even in traffic islands outdoors. And then it started raining. It rained all night.

So it was really miserable. But this -- today has not been so bad. The sun came out. There have been no aftershocks now for nearly nine hours

and compared to yesterday I think the mood (INAUDIBLE) more upbeat. But you know, people do realize, of course, that there's a lot of people

trapped under the rubble in this city and that the -- and that the scale of the devastation in the mountain villages, which are remote, is (INAUDIBLE)


AMANPOUR: Well, I actually wanted to ask you about (INAUDIBLE) don't know about the remote. We don't know about the epicenter and what happened

around there. What we do know however is that drone photography


overhead has shown that the majority of the capital is actually intact and that only a small but very visible historic center has collapsed.

Give me a sense of the extent of the devastation in the capital and in the hinterlands.

DIXIT: Well, you know, we've been warning that a major (INAUDIBLE) earthquake in Kathmandu valley would kill 100,000 people (INAUDIBLE).

(INAUDIBLE) and that more would die of injuries later on --

AMANPOUR: That's huge.

DIXIT: -- yes, but this was 7.9, nearly 8 and in a sense, the death toll now for Kathmandu is 1,100. (INAUDIBLE).


DIXIT: -- were the monuments, the temples, the 400-year-old palaces. Kathmandu's architectural heritage, because they were built of bricks and

timber and mud and mortar.

AMANPOUR: As horrendous as that is historically and culturally, it does seem to me, though, that perhaps Nepal at this particular moment may have

come out of it better than the world expected. But you've been quite critical of your government.

Why have you been writing so critically if, in fact, this is the case?

DIXIT: Well, first of all, it is only Kathmandu that came out (INAUDIBLE) unscathed, compared to what we had predicted for this magnitude earthquake.

But having said that I think the disaster preparedness is still woefully inadequate, even within Kathmandu, in Bhaktapur, which is a town east of

Kathmandu, it's been devastated. There have been 300 fatalities there. Even there, which is only 7 kilometers from the capital, the state presence

is almost negligible. So not only were we not prepared in terms of better, safer housing we're not even prepared for the aftermath. And if this is

the case so near to the capital, you can imagine what it is like in the mountains.

AMANPOUR: So you're bracing for some really bad news once news comes in from the (INAUDIBLE) of the country.

DIXIT: I think the devastation is unimaginable. We are only getting in (INAUDIBLE) district that (INAUDIBLE) the death toll is only 200, is now

looking at looking more like 1,200. So I think -- and some of the images that have been taken by helicopter pilots that have flown over some of

these very remote villages in districts west of Kathmandu towards the epicenter, those are amazingly shocking sights of villages where not a

single building is standing.

AMANPOUR: Kunda Dixit, editor of the "Nepali Times," thank you very much for joining me.

DIXIT: Thanks.


AMANPOUR: Now as soon as the earthquake struck on Saturday, Valerie Amos started tweeting about what the United Nations is doing to help, by

providing medical supplies, tents and food and they do need body bags there, too. She tells me for all humanitarian aid, it's now a race against



AMANPOUR: Baroness Amos, welcome. Welcome again to the program under very dire circumstances.

You yourself have tried to get to Nepal, not possible.

AMOS: Well, we're going to see. Obviously the government have to say yes but also I don't want to get in the way of urgently needed supplies getting

in. That's the priority right now. The airport is becoming very, very congested. So I'm waiting.

And if, in the next couple of days it looks possible, I will go. I want to be able to keep the world's attention on this. It's terrible for Nepal and

of course we've got a lot of U.N. humanitarian staff there and we've also got our partner organizations that are very, very active --


AMANPOUR: And a lot of people, including the community itself, trying to help each other, some say in the absence of a lot of government help, but

here's the thing.

What does the pipeline need right now?

You say you don't want to get in the way.

What is the most urgently needed?

AMOS: Well, water. It's a desperate situation. People need to be able to get water; fuel supplies are running very low. Food and obviously medical

supplies -- I mean, with nearly over 7,000 people injured, this is a huge number of people that we're talking about.

AMANPOUR: Let me read you some statistics (INAUDIBLE) quite shocking. I mean, this is a very poor country (INAUDIBLE) apparently it only has 2.1

doctors and 50 hospital beds for every


10,000 people as compared, for instance, in the United States.

So the need is huge.

AMOS: The need is enormous. It's putting a huge strain on the country. You talked about those early responders. Always in a situation like this,

it's the local communities themselves that come to the aid of their neighbors. It's families helping other families. I've seen this in so

many other situations.

And really trying to recover.

AMANPOUR: What countries are best placed? We've heard a lot about India but we've heard other countries also, flying in equipment and help.

But what is the route in? Is it OK now for aid deliveries?

AMOS: Nepal is a very mountainous country. So getting to those outlying areas remains really, really difficult. So there is a need for helicopters

to get there. There is only one runway at the airport. So you can imagine trying to have commercial traffic and aid flights coming in. It's putting

a huge pressure on already limited resources. And this is the difficulty.

And then you can't make the airport become congested with supplies because you have to leave it open for flights to come in and out. And this is why

we have (INAUDIBLE) --


AMANPOUR: -- at least intact. Some of the most spectacular damage is the historical damage.

But what about the outlying areas? What about the epicenter? Have you got any reliable information coming in?

AMOS: The information is coming in anecdotally. It's very hard to know. We don't know how these casualty figures will rise. I mean, of course we

all hope they will stay as low as possible. But we urgently need to get the search and rescue teams in there. We need to get the rubble moved so

that we can see whether others are trapped in that rubble. And then we have to get aid to these people, who so desperately need it.

AMANPOUR: Now I know you're the United Nations and you are reluctant to (INAUDIBLE) but everybody is saying, particularly local editors, newspapers

and others that the government simply wasn't prepared despite the fact that everybody was waiting for the big one, that years of civil war between

Maoist insurgents and the government have left it fighting within itself and not really focusing on disaster relief or prevention.

AMOS: (INAUDIBLE) is to try and to support the government. This is a tricky situation for any government to have to deal with. It is a major,

major crisis. They have not seen anything like this since 1934. It's a very long time. I mean, if you have something of this scale and people see

this kind of thing on a regular basis, then the communities are more attuned as to what you do.

It's a long time. The government is doing its best. It's asked the international community for additional support. They have done that

quickly. The international community is coming in. We have to coordinate those efforts.

AMANPOUR: You are a former politician. You're a former minister.

What difference does it make if, for instance, there are the local counselors and others in place -- which there aren't; they haven't had the

elections for years and years in Nepal.

Can it be better for the future?

AMOS: But of course the better the local communities, the national authorities are organized, the more straightforward it is for the

international community to come in and back them up.

We have a coordination system inside the hall. There is a national coordination center which is up and running. You have the army which is

coordinating all the help that is coming in on the military side. But we've got to make sure that it's all joined up and that as much as possible

we minimize duplication of effort.

I've seen the way that sometimes we fall over each other in our efforts to get aid in. It's also important that we get the right supplies in.

Sometimes we put so much pressure on our government by saying, well, what are you doing, what are you doing that sometimes governments will just send

supplies in because they want to be seen to be doing something.

We have to make sure that as much as possible what comes in is (INAUDIBLE) needed.

AMANPOUR: Undersecretary-General Valerie Amos, thank you very much indeed, a daunting challenge indeed.

AMOS: Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: Now after a break, we will stay with the tragedy in Nepal, spreading across the country to its highest peaks, leaving people stranded

and worse in Mt. Everest.






AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Nepal's devastating earthquake struck just as the world's most daring climbers prepared to scale its highest peak. The trembling earth at

Everest base camp triggered an avalanche its terrifying moment of impact caught on camera.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): At least 17 people have been killed on Everest. And joining me now from Gloucestershire in West England is the English

mountaineer, Kenton Cool, who scaled the mountain 11 times and he's also lost three Sherpa friends in this disaster.

Kenton Cool, thank you for joining me. Let me go straight to asking you, there were a lot of beeps on that video that we just showed. I'm assuming

it was expletive-laden.

What is the sheer terror of being in that kind of situation? You've been there before.

KENTON COOL, MOUNTAINEER: I have. It's one of the things that genuinely when you see an avalanche coming down, you very quickly assess about it --

you have a rough idea about the power and whether it's going to reach.

In the video, what we see there is two climbers, a couple of climbers and they're kind of marveling about the fact there's an earthquake. And then

they realize that that's out of the mist is coming the avalanche. And it's gaining ground on them extremely quickly. It would have been mind-

numbingly frightening. It would have been just all-empowered and it would have been upon then extremely quickly.

So the expletives, the X-rated language that -- what was bleeped out there, I'm not surprised at all. It would have been a -- yes, the --

AMANPOUR: Terrifying. And let's face it,


more than a dozen people have been killed and there's still people stranded.

Fortunately, it has to be said, that these are sort of the luckier ones, those who can get the helicopters to airlift them.

What are you hearing about what might still be going on?

Are you touch with any friends, any fellow climbers right now?

COOL: I've been in contact constantly since Saturday. It's been difficult with communications, communication in and out of base camp is never that

easy. The climbers at Everest are -- I mean, I hate to say it but they're comparatively comfortable. There are good medical facilities there.

They've got shelter and food. Some of the more remote Nepali Himalayan villages they have very little. They're running out of food, running out

of fresh water. There are helicopters coming in and out. So it's a very, very bleak scene. Right across the backbone of the Himalayas in the

fortnaught (ph) right now from the Annapurnas through Langtang, Rolwaling, everysisto (ph) and also the Manaslu (ph) and Hinku valleys. It's a very

desperate time.

AMANPOUR: Kenton, it is obviously a really risky and dangerous thing. I mean, it's not for the faint-hearted, climbing Everest. But they do --

climbers such as yourself know the dangers ahead.

But is it even more dangerous now that there are so many -- some call less trained, less professional, slightly more amateurs flooding the zone?

COOL: Well, there's definitely an argument for that. The climbs that go toward a Western paying client, that go perhaps don't have the skill set to

climb that mountain, what without guides like me. I am an Everest guide. I take people up and down the mountainside. However an occurrence such as

this has absolutely nothing to do with how skillful or otherwise a person is. This is essentially an act of God for want of another term.

And there's nothing that you can do. Even the most experienced climber can do nothing to prepare themselves for a 7.9 magnitude earthquake followed by

one of the biggest avalanches Everest has probably ever seen. And I think if you look at the people who have been injured, it's completely

indiscriminate. It just really depended where you were on the mountain at that particular time.

AMANPOUR: And you yourself have lost three Sherpa friends in this avalanche, in this disaster. Tell me about them and where were they? How

did they get caught while others escaped?

COOL: So the place that we normally set our base camp is one of the closer camps to the nullitpara (ph), where the avalanche (INAUDIBLE). So the spot

that I would use as base camp and my Sherpa team would have been there this year. We would have been -- it would have borne the brunt force of that

avalanche. Some of the Sherpas were higher on the mountain and are perfectly safe. But it was the core of the sort of base camp staff, one of

the cooks has been killed, a very dear friend I've known for many, many, many years, a lovely, beautiful man with a number of daughters that he now

leaves without a father.

So I'd say very indiscriminate. It didn't really matter who you were or where you were. It was an act of God. And very, very sad because the

Sherpa people are beautiful people.

AMANPOUR: Kenton Cool, thank you very much indeed for your reflections on this day. Thanks for joining us.

And after a break, we imagine the world of Nepal today, now it's one that's scarred for life by the horrifying tremors, images that people will never

forget -- when we come back.