Australia pledges aid package to Nepal as 300 Australians still unaccounted for

2015-04-27 01:42:08 GMT2015-04-27 09:42:08(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

CANBERRA, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on Monday the government had pledged a 3.19- million U.S dollar assistance package to earthquake-devastated Nepal.

The relief funds will be distributed between the Australian Red Cross effort, Australian non-government organizations based in Nepal, and the United Nations (UN) and its partners.

Half of the money will be given to Australian NGOs as they attempt to rebuild after the disaster, while 391,000 U.S dollars will be distributed to Australian Red Cross officials and 1.56 million U.S dollars to the United Nations.

It is believed more than 300 Australians are yet to be located, while there are unconfirmed reports of the death of one Australian.

Bishop said she was working hard to confirm the details.

Two humanitarian experts are also going to be flown into Nepal to help find the Australians still unaccounted for.

"More than 830 Aussies in Nepal have been accounted for following the earthquake," Bishop told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio Monday.

Earlier in a statement, she said it was important for those that were safe in Nepal to open up all lines of contact so that the authorities and the families could confirm their safety and whereabouts.

"I urge Australians concerned for the welfare of families and friends in Nepal to attempt to contact them directly," the statement said.

Temba Tsheri Sherpa, a Sherpa from the company Dreamers' Destination Treks and Expedition said that he "lost four team members in the avalanche - two Nepalis, one Chinese and one Australian" in Saturday's earthquake.

Meanwhile, many members of Australia's Nepalese community are still trying to contact loved ones, with members of Victoria's 15, 000-strong chapter "shaken beyond belief" after the Saturday disaster.

"This is really hard to come to terms (with) at the moment and we're still trying to get the actual picture of what happened," community representative Raju Shakya told ABC radio on Monday.

"We are very eager to help in whatever way we can and that's what we've been concentrating on.

"Yesterday since we heard, we've been trying to contact loved ones to see if they're safe and sound.

"It wasn't easy trying to contact people because the phone lines were down; we spent hours and hours trying to contact people. "

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