KATHMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s prime minister vowed Tuesday his country would rebound from an earthquake that leveled villages and left more than 5,000 dead, but noted the devastation also was a lesson to better prepare for the next natural disaster.
“We have always faced, tackled and overcome immense national obstacles and tragedies with unity, cooperation and common help,” said Prime Minister Sushil Koirala in a nationally televised address. “I know we will continue to do this as we move forward.”
Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude quake, however, also exposed shortcomings in emergency planning, he said.
Among the challenges: a communications network that was quickly knocked out or overwhelmed, and finding ways to reach remote areas by air with relief and medical aid in a country where the steep valleys and towering mountains hamper road building.
“The government will learn from its weaknesses as we continue to find ways to deal with this devastation,” Koirala said. “This tragedy has taught us that we need organizational management in natural disaster management.”
In a sign that Nepal’s suffering is not over, a landslide from quake-weakened slopes roared into a village popular with Himalayan trekkers, leaving at least 250 people missing in the latest potential tragedy to hit Nepal, officials said.
The wall of mud, ice and snow that fell north of Kathmandu further strained rescue teams struggling in the aftermath of Saturday’s massive earthquake that has left some remote valleys still cut off from help — raising fears the death toll could rise.
The landslide also highlighted concerns that last week’s quake — combined with a series of powerful aftershocks and rain storms — has left hillsides in danger of mudslides and avalanches across the country.
On Mount Everest, meanwhile, helicopters ferried the last stranded climbers from the mountain’s base camp, where at least 19 people — including four Americans — were killed when Saturday’s quake triggered a huge avalanche.
The landslide reported Tuesday hit the village of Ghodatabela, which is part of a region north of Nepal’s capital that is often visited by trekkers, said Rasuwa District Gov. Uddhav Bhattarai, according to the Reuters news agency.
Officials said at least 250 people were unaccounted for, according to news reports. Further details were not immediately available. Ghodatabela is about a 12-hour walk from the nearest town, the Associated Press reported.
International relief and rescue teams have poured into Nepal as the scope of the devastation becomes clearer. Rescue crews said some villages were nearly leveled by the temblor, and overwhelmed centers in Kathmandu tried to cope with a growing stream of people injured or in desperate need of aid.
According to the latest figures from Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs, the death toll has climbed to 5,057. Nearly 11,000 others have been injured, and more than 450,000 people are said to be internally displaced.
Anup Kaphle and Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.