Nepal earthquake: Mountain villages are cut off from almost everything

Story highlights

  • The death toll from the earthquake is 6,621, with 14,040 injured, Nepali police said Friday
  • Pockets of hope can be found in remote areas, like an aid station staffed by a paramedic who was in Nepal on vacation
  • Some survivors stranded in remote areas are being brought to Kathmandu by helicopter

Keura, Nepal (CNN)Seven days in and the specter of the Nepal earthquake only grows.

The capital, Kathmandu, is in ruins.
    In the countryside, not too far from the quake's epicenter, mountain villages are cut off from almost everything. Landslides block the roads and no significant aid is on the way.

    The road to Keura

    Keura is one of those villages.
    Roads will only get you so far in the Himalayas northwest of Kathmandu. They're muddy, and they're dangerous.
    On the road to Keura, there are some pockets of hope. A makeshift aid distribution center has been set up along the route.
    Volunteers like retired American paramedic Stacey Baker are doing what they can to help. Any other assistance is hours away.
    "A lot of people are coming down for provisions and food and stuff like that," Baker said. "We think the sicker people that need to be seen can't get here."
    Baker, who was in Nepal on vacation, treated one of her sickest patients of the day. A tiny baby, who arrived feverish and lethargic, cries for attention.
    A car will only take you so far on the road to Keura. Landslides and the rubble of homes blocks the way.
    On foot, a crumpled bit of a child's homework lays on the pile.
    A man told his horrific story, near the ruins of his home where his wife and three of his children died.
    "I heard her screaming and then nothing," Morego said.
    Devastation is everywhere across the valley. Helicopters circle over the mountaintops, but none are landing anywhere near Keura.
    Once in the village the damage is clear. Keura has been leveled
    A 13-year-old girl is in constant pain and can barely walk. A wall fell on her, injuring her back.
    Herbal medicines in a thick green paste are being used, because no medical aid has arrived and the community doesn't know when it will.

    The bigger picture

    Back in Kathmandu, search and rescue teams continued to scour the city's rubble Friday. They are looking for survivors from the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck Saturday. That earthquake and aftershocks killed at least 6,621 people and wounded 14,040, Nepali police said Friday. Another 72 people were reported dead in India and 25 in China.
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    In Nepal, 19 of the deaths occurred on Mount Everest, where the quake triggered deadly avalanches. Despite the disaster, Nepali authorities plan to reopen routes up the mountain as soon as next week.
    Teams are clearing paths and rebuilding ladders, Tourism Ministry spokesman Krishna Sapkota said. Officials are encouraging people who have already received permission to climb this season to go ahead with their plans.
    Despite the devastation, the rescuers have no intention of giving up looking for more.
    The 2010 earthquake in Haiti revised the benchmark for what was thought possible for survival, said Andrew Olvera, the head of a U.S. disaster response team. A man there was miraculously pulled from the rubble after 27 long days.

    Helicopters bring stranded survivors to safety

    Nine people who were stranded and almost out of food were rescued Friday from the town of Gorkha about 140 kilometers (86 miles) from Kathmandu, said Susan Parker Burns, public affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy in the Nepalese capital.
    The nine, brought to Kathmandu by helicopter, included seven Americans, one Canadian and a person of unknown nationality, Burns told CNN. Some of those had been trekking om Nepal before the earthquake, and some had been staying at a monastery in Gorkha in recent days and were able to call the embassy on satellite phone.
    On Thursday, 22 stranded people -- including three Americans -- were brought to Kathmandu by helicopter, Burns said.