The death toll continues to rise after the Nepal earthquake. At least 3,200 are confirmed dead and the numbers will exceed 3,600 soon. The earthquake registered 7.8 magnitude with an epicenter some 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu, the capitol of Nepal. Relief to the Himalayan nation is complicated do to the rugged terrain, remoteness and lack of logistical infrastructure. For example, the airport at Kathmandu only has one runway. Many roads were damaged or blocked by the earthquake. Some villages and towns near the epicenter are cut off and have yet to be heard from. Three Americans are known to be among the dead while over 100 others are missing due to avalanches at base camps near Mt. Everest. Hundreds of foreign mountain climbers and local guides are feared lost.
Efforts to send help are hampered by the remote distance and damage to roads. We have seen this before after the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Japan. That help which is in route amounts to just some search and rescue teams and a meager 45 tons of badly needed supplies. Hardly enough for the some 1.5 million residents of Kathmandu, let alone the rest of Nepal.
Which leads me to once again to call for the development of a high-speed, rigid airship capable of carrying at least 100 tons of cargo, if not 500 tons or more. Recently in the news was the story of a UK airship, the Airlander 10, which is a hybrid air vehicle or HAV. This helium-filled craft can fly for weeks at a speed of nearly 100 MPH, but can only carry up to 10 tons of cargo. Still, the advantages of such airships is that they could operate in areas lacking runways or other infrastructure needed for conventional aircraft.
Meanwhile, survivors of the Nepal earthquake continue to search the rubble for victims. Most of the city of Kathmandu is damaged or destroyed, much like what happened in 1934 when another major quake impacted the area. Only this time the population is much larger. Saturday′s quake also caused casualties in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tibet. China and other nations in the region are mobilizing relief efforts to aid the victims. But, with all of the damage, it could take weeks before enough help can reach them.