AT LEAST 50 Irish citizens are currently in the area affected by the Nepal earthquake which has claimed more than 3,200 lives since it struck on Saturday.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has confirmed that his department has already made contact with a number of Irish people caught up in the 7.8-magnitude quake, which hit the Southern Asian region on Saturday morning.
“Following the earthquake in Nepal we are working closely with the UN and NGO partners on how Ireland can best assist in the coming days,” he said.
“An emergency Consular Response Team was established on Saturday in my Department and will remain in place for as long as necessary to assist citizens who may be affected and their families,” he added.
“The Department is aware of some 50 citizens in the affected region. Contact has already been established with many of them. Communications lines have been affected so this is an ongoing process that may take some time. We will continue to provide consular advice and assistance over the coming days as the situation evolves.”
The quake, deemed the worst to hit the region in more than 80 years, caused deadly avalanches around Mount Everest on Saturday and aftershocks which have been felt in Nepal, India and Bangladesh over the past 24 hours.
Dubliner Paul Greenan is reported to have been among a group of climbers who were tackling Mount Everest this weekend and suffered fatalities when the earthquake hit.
He and British companion Richard Brooks were in the party that included Dan Fredinburg, a senior executive at Google who was killed in the avalanche that swept through Everest base camp in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Both Brooks and Greenan suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and have since left the area, while many other climbers are still confined to the mountain.
Newlyweds Alex Schneider and Sam Chappatte are also safe but awaiting rescue at Everest base camp, after a second night braving the elements.
Chappatte, a British/Belgian national who previously studied at Trinity College Dublin, has been blogging about their experiences since the earthquake hit.
“The earthquake hit about 30 minutes after we had crossed the icefall yesterday morning and found our tents,” he explained.
“The ground started shaking violently,” he added, “we staggered out to see an avalanche coming straight at us. A blast of wind knocked us down but we were able to get up and run to shelter behind some tents and anchor ourselves with our axes.”
Fourteen Irish-born people feature on a list published by The International Committee of the Red Cross this week, highlighting those still believed to be missing in Nepal.
Helplines have been set up in Britain and Ireland for those concerned about family or friends who may be in the region.
Contact the Irish foreign office number on 00 353 1 4180200 or the British hotline on 0207 008000.