Nepal: We will need huge foreign support for reconstruction

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More Aid Arrives Outside Quake-Hit Kathmandu

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Nepal's government will need immense international support as the Himalayan nation begins turning its attention toward reconstruction in the coming weeks, in the wake of the devastating April earthquake, a top official said Monday.

Nepal is one of the world's poorest nations, and its economy, largely based on tourism, has been crippled by the earthquake, which left more than 7,300 people dead. While there are no clear estimates yet of how much it will cost to rebuild, it will certainly be enormously expensive.

"In two to three weeks a serious reconstruction package needs to be developed, where we'll need enormous help from the international community," said Information Minister Minendra Rijal. "There's a huge, huge funding gap."

He also said foreign rescue workers were welcome in Nepal, saying they could remain as long as they are needed. He had earlier said that the need for their services was diminishing, but later denied that he wanted them to leave the country.

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4/28 Nepal earthquake relief & recovery (updated 5/1)
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Nepal: We will need huge foreign support for reconstruction
Nepalese soldiers unload relief material brought in by an Indian air force helicopter for victims of Saturday’s earthquake in Melamchi at Sindhupalchowk district, Nepal, Friday, May 1, 2015. The U.N. said the quake affected 8.1 million people, more than a fourth of Nepal's population of 27.8 million, and that more than 1.4 million needed food assistance. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Nepalese soldiers run to unload relief material brought in by an Indian air force helicopter for victims of Saturday’s earthquake in Melamchi at Sindhupalchowk district, Nepal, Friday, May 1, 2015. The U.N. said the quake affected 8.1 million people, more than a fourth of Nepal's population of 27.8 million, and that more than 1.4 million needed food assistance. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Volunteers load an aid helicopter with relief supplies in Majuwa village, near the epicenter of Saturday's massive earthquake, in the Gorkha District of Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. In Gorkha, five cargo trucks filled with rice, cooking oil and sugar stood on a grassy field in Majuwa village waiting for a helicopter from Kathmandu to take the supplies to the hardest-hit areas of that district. Unlike in Nepal's capital, where most buildings were spared complete collapse, the tiny hamlets clinging to the remote mountainsides of Gorkha District have been ravaged. Entire clusters of homes were reduced to piles of stone and splintered wood. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Nepalese women and children receive food distributed by a non-government organization in the center of Kathmandu on April 30, 2015. The UN launched an appeal for Nepalese quake survivors in dire need of shelter, food and medical care April 30 as anger boiled at the government's inability to cope with a disaster that has killed more than 5,000 people. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese children play outside their tent shelter in Kathmandu on April 30, 2015. The UN launched an appeal for Nepalese quake survivors in dire need of shelter, food and medical care April 30 as anger boiled at the government's inability to cope with a disaster that has killed more than 5,000 people. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Nepalese villager woman looks out from amongst makeshift tents at Laprak village, in northern-central Gorkha district on April 30, 2015. The UN launched an appeal for Nepalese quake survivors in dire need of shelter, food and medical care April 30 as anger boiled at the government's inability to cope with a disaster that has killed more than 5,000 people. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - APRIL 30: Nepalese victims of the eartquake buy vegetables in a street market in Bhaktapur on April 30, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 5500 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - APRIL 30: Sanjhana Tamang takes care of her daughter Simran Tamang, 3, as she lays in bed at a temporary hospital suffering from Typhoid fever after the earthquake in Shanku on April 30, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 5500 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - 2015/04/30: Nepali soldiers and civilians try to pull down a dangerous section of severely damaged wall that is in danger of collapsing in Bhaktapur, Nepal on April 30, 2015. On April 25, 2015, Nepal suffered a magnitude 7.8 earthquake killing over 5,000 people and injuring thousands more. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A Nepalese family sit outside makeshift tents at Laprak village, in northern-central Gorkha district on April 30, 2015. The UN launched an appeal for Nepalese quake survivors in dire need of shelter, food and medical care April 30 as anger boiled at the government's inability to cope with a disaster that has killed more than 5,000 people. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Nepalese mother sits with her child outside makeshift tents at Laprak village, in northern-central Gorkha district on April 30, 2015. The UN launched an appeal for Nepalese quake survivors in dire need of shelter, food and medical care April 30 as anger boiled at the government's inability to cope with a disaster that has killed more than 5,000 people. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Nepalese injured mother and daughter sit inside an Indian Army helicopter after they were rescued from Laprak village, in northern-central Gorkha district on April 30, 2015. The UN launched an appeal for Nepalese quake survivors in dire need of shelter, food and medical care April 30 as anger boiled at the government's inability to cope with a disaster that has killed more than 5,000 people. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese youth, Pemba Tamang,15, is treated by Israeli Army medic soldiers at the Israeli field hospital following his rescue earlier in the day in Kathmandu on April 30, 2015. Rescuers pulled a 15-year-old boy alive from the rubble of Nepal's earthquake April 30, bringing a rare moment of joy to the ruined capital Kathmandu, five days after a disaster which killed more than 5,500 people. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - APRIL 29: Nepalese Army Police memebers search for victims among debris of a house on April 29, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 4600 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - APRIL 29: A Nepalese victim of the earthquake searchs for her belongings among debris of her house on April 29, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 4600 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Nepal army soldiers unload relief material from an Indian Air Force helicopter at earthquake affected Dhadingbesti, in Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. The first aid shipments reached a hilly district near the epicenter of Nepal's earthquake, a U.N. food agency official said, and distribution of food and medicine would start Wednesday, five days after the quake struck. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Survivors of Saturday's earthquake hold on to a cable as a military takes off with evacuees from Kathmandu to New Delhi during a midnight rescue mission by Indian Air Force, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Nepal Army personnel drop relief materials at Larpak village in Gorkha, north-central Nepal on April 29, 2015, following a devastating earthquake on April 25. Desperate Nepalis clashed with riot police and seized supplies of bottled water in the capital April 29 as anger boiled over among survivors of an earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people. AFP PHOTO/PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - APRIL 29: A young girl waits on board a bus to be evacuated from the city center on April 29, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 4600 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
A Nepalese child injured in Saturday's earthquake is taken on a stretcher after being evacuated from higher reaches of mountains by Nepalese army soldiers, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. The first aid shipments reached a hilly district near the epicenter of Nepal's earthquake, a U.N. food agency official said, and distribution of food and medicine would start Wednesday, five days after the quake struck. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - APRIL 29: A member of the army stands watch over a destroyed temple in Bashantapur on April 29, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 4600 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - APRIL 29: Thousands of people queue on the street outside a government building as they wait for free bus rides out of the city center on on April 29, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 4600 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - APRIL 29: Nepalese victims of the earthquake search for their belongings among debris of their homes on April 29, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 4600 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Houses on the higher reaches of mountains destroyed in Saturday’s earthquake are seen from a helicopter near Dhadingbesti, in Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. The first aid shipments reached a hilly district near the epicenter of Nepal's earthquake, a U.N. food agency official said, and distribution of food and medicine would start Wednesday, five days after the quake struck. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
An injured victim of Saturdy's earthquake is transported to hospital after being evacuated by Indian Air Force, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. The first aid shipments reached a hilly district near the epicenter of Nepal's earthquake, a U.N. food agency official said, and distribution of food and medicine would start Wednesday, five days after the quake struck. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Villagers wait in the rain as an aid relief helicopter lands at their remote mountain village of Gumda, near the epicenter of Saturday's massive earthquake in the Gorkha District of Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Destroyed villages sit on mountain tops near the epicenter of Saturday's massive earthquake, in the Gorkha District of Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. Aid reached the hilly district near the epicenter of Nepal's earthquake for the first time Wednesday. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Survivors of Saturday's earthquake read newspaper at a makeshift camp in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. A strong earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu valley on Saturday. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - APRIL 29: Nepalese victims of the earthquake search for their belongings among debris of their homes on April 29, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 4600 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Nepalese residents wait to board buses to leave Kathmandu at a main bus stand in Kathmandu on April 29, 2015, to leave the Nepalese capital following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the Himalayan nation on April 25. Nepalese riot police battled to contain anger among survivors of an earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people as rescuers raced against time to find anyone else alive in the rubble of the capital Kathmandu. Supplies are running thin and aftershocks have strained nerves in the ruined city. Desperate to leave, thousands of people began gathering from before dawn outside the main bus station after the government promised to lay on special services. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - APRIL 29: Nepalese victims of the earthquake search for their belongings among debris of their homes on April 29, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 4600 dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Rescuers from Japan are seen in the historical centre of Kathmandu on April 29, 2015, following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the Himalayan nation on April 25. Rescuers are facing a race against time to find survivors of a mammoth earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people when it through Nepal five days ago and devastated large parts of one of Asia's poorest nations. AFP PHOTO/Philippe LOPEZ (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People pay their last tributes to victims of Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, after their bodies arrived in Gauhati, India, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. The bodies of six women victims arrived in Gauhati on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
An Indian girl cries near the coffin of her mother Hema Prabha Saikia, a victim of Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, in Gauhati, India, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. The bodies of six women victims arrived in Gauhati on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
This photo taken early on April 29, 2015 shows a survivor (C) being carried out of a damaged building by a French rescue team after being trapped for 82 hours in earthquake-hit Kathmandu. The death toll from the April 25 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 28 was more than 5,000, with another 8,000 people injured, while the United Nations estimated that eight million people had been affected. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
TIBET, CHINA - APRIL 28: (CHINA OUT) (EDITORS NOTE: Image is highest resolution available.) Border soldiers press forward Zhangmu Town which lose contact with outside world for 70 hours after 8.1-magnitude earthquake hitting Nepal and spreading to Tibet on April 28, 2015 in Tibet Autonomous Region, China. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving thousands dead or trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. Regular aftershocks have hampered recovery missions as locals, officials and aid workers attempt to recover bodies from the rubble. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Damaged houses are seen from an Indian Army helicopter following an earthquake in the Nepalese area of Gorkha on April 28, 2015. Hungry and desperate Nepalese villagers rushed towards a relief helicopter begging to be airlifted to safety April 28, 2015, after a huge earthquake that has killed at least 4,349 people devastated their remote community. Terrified residents of Lapu in Gorkha, some of the eight million people the UN said were affected by the April 25, 2015 quake, ran with outstretched arms to the Indian army chopper, pleading for much-needed food and water. AFP PHOTO / Sajjad Hussain (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese students and volunteers clear the rubble at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu valley on Saturday devastating the region and leaving tens of thousands shell-shocked and sleeping in streets. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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Soon, he added, the nation will be shifting away from a rescue mode and "will be concentrating more on relief operations."

Since the April 25 earthquake, 4,050 rescue workers from 34 different nations have flown to Nepal to help in rescue operations, provide emergency medical care and distribute food and other necessities. The still-rising death toll from the quake, Nepal's worst in more than 80 years, has reached 7,365 police said.

Meanwhile, Buddhists turned out to visit shrines and monasteries to mark the birthday of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

At the base of the Swayambhunath shrine, located atop a hill overlooking Kathmandu, hundreds of people chanted prayers as they walked around the hill where the white iconic stupa with its gazing eyes is located.

Some of the structures around the stupa, built in the 5th century, were damaged in the quake. Police blocked off the steep steps to the top of the shrine, also called the "Monkey Temple" because of the many monkeys who live on its slopes.

"I am praying for peace for the thousands of people who were killed," said Santa Lama, a 60-year-old woman. "I hope there will be peace and calm in the country once again and the worst is over."

Kathmandu's main airport remained closed since Sunday to large aircraft delivering aid due to runaway damage, but U.N. officials said the overall logistics situation was improving.

The airport was built to handle only medium-size jetliners, but not the large military and cargo planes that have been flying in aid supplies, food, medicines, and rescue and humanitarian workers, said Birendra Shrestha, the manager of Tribhuwan International Airport.

There have been reports of cracks on the runway and other problems at the only airport in Nepal capable of handling jetliners.

"You've got one runway, and you've got limited handling facilities, and you've got the ongoing commercial flights," said Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. coordinator for Nepal. "You put on top of that massive relief items coming in, the search and rescue teams that have clogged up this airport. And I think once they put better systems in place, I think that will get better."

He said the bottlenecks in aid delivery were slowly disappearing, and the Nepalese government eased customs and other bureaucratic hurdles on humanitarian aid following complaints from the U.N.

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