More than 2,000 volunteers and 300 staff from the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) have been working around the clock since the earthquake. They have supported search and rescue efforts, provided first aid, offered psychosocial support, carried out assessments and given assistance at evacuation centres and on the streets.

A New Zealand Red Cross emergency response unit consisting of three telecommunications specialists, supoirted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is now in Nepal working with NRCS to establish local communication networks to help ensure the smooth flow of information in the operation. Two New Zealand Red Cross health delegates and one security delegate are also heading to Nepal to assist NRCS.

In many areas outside the Kathmandu Valley, the condition of many people remains unknown. Six Red Cross assessment teams are reporting that some towns and villages in the worst-affected districts close to the epicentre have suffered almost total devastation. Local residents are in a desperate situation.

“One of our teams that returned from Chautara in Sindupalchowk district reported that 90 per cent of the homes are destroyed. The hospital has collapsed, and people are digging through the rubble with their hands in the hope that they might find family members who are still alive,” said Jagan Chapagain, Director of Asia Pacific with the IFRC. “We can expect the situation to be the same if not worse in many other places where aid has not yet been delivered.”

There are estimates that up to 40,000 homes in Sindupalchowk alone have been destroyed.

With so many families in need, the Nepal Red Cross Society has almost exhausted its relief stocks, which were sufficient for 19,000 families. Every day, Red Cross volunteers have been distributing tarpaulins in affected areas, to shelter thousands of people who remain too afraid to return home because of aftershocks and damage to their homes.

The priority now is to move relief efforts to more remote areas.

“We know what the needs are, and Nepal Red Cross volunteers are ready in every district to distribute relief. The challenge now is bringing sufficient quantities into the country,” explained Mr Chapagain.

The amount of emergency aid needed for such a large-scale disaster outstrips the capacity of Kathmandu’s small international airport, which is receiving an extremely high volume of aid flights now coming into Nepal.

On Friday, 1 May, the first two planes carrying a limited number of goods from the IFRC are expected to land. They have additional stocks to serve 1,000 people and a 60-bed rapid deployment emergency hospital. Yet more is clearly needed.

Meanwhile, IFRC teams on the ground remain focused on reaching people with emergency shelter, together with blankets, cooking sets, water containers and other basic household items.

The Nepal Red Cross Society has extensive experience in responding to natural disasters and plays a lead role in the government’s contingency plans. Emergency responders from the Red Cross trained in first aid and search and rescue have been mobilised to affected areas. The organization's blood bank in Kathmandu is also providing blood supplies to the main medical facilities in the capital.

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has contributed $500,000 to New Zealand Red Cross to support the IFRC's response to provide assistance to people affected by the earthquake across Nepal.and has also covering the costs of the Emergency Response Unit's deployment.

Ways to give

At any Red Cross office or shop

Donations may be made by cheque, payable to "New Zealand Red Cross" and posted to New Zealand Red Cross – Supporter Services, PO Box 12140, Thorndon, Wellington 6144. Please include your name and address so we can send you a receipt.

Call 0800 RED CROSS

Text Help to 4741 to make a $3 donation

Direct Bank transfer:

Bank account: 12-3192-0015998-00

Particulars: First name and surname OR initials and surname if there is not enough space OR Organisation name for groups/corporates

Reference: SP122

Code: Nepal

For direct bank transfer only: If you would like a receipt, please email after making the donation and let us know the date and amount of the donation along with your name and postal address.

Note: sending cash is the best option to help those affected. Donations allow us, where possible, to buy the relief items required in the affected area. This benefits the local economy and allows us to take into account local tastes, traditions and cultures.

You can read more about why we need donations, not goods here.