China-Nepal border point reopens after earthquake repairs

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NTP: Nepal-China border point reopens amid oil shortage
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China-Nepal border point reopens after earthquake repairs
Nepalese bus drivers and conductors rest inside a bus after it ran out of fuel in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A China-Nepal border point that was damaged by April's devastating earthquake reopened Tuesday just as the small Himalayan nation struggles with supply shortages because of protests that have disrupted border points with India in the south. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese woman pushes her scooter forward as she waits for her turn to fill fuel at a gas station in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A China-Nepal border point that was damaged by April's devastating earthquake reopened Tuesday just as the small Himalayan nation struggles with supply shortages because of protests that have disrupted border points with India in the south. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese man sits inside his car as he waits for his turn to fill fuel at a gas station in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A China-Nepal border point that was damaged by April's devastating earthquake reopened Tuesday just as the small Himalayan nation struggles with supply shortages because of protests that have disrupted border points with India in the south. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Nepalese people wait for their turn to fill fuel In their motorbikes at gas station run by Nepalese army in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Struggling with a fuel shortage after Indian shipments went on hold, Nepal is asking suppliers to bring gasoline and kerosene by airplane before the Himalayan country begins celebrating its biggest festival of the year, and for the first time is looking to import fuel from China. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Nepalese children return home on an electric vehicle hired by their school after school buses stopped plying because of shortage of fuel in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Struggling with a fuel shortage after Indian shipments went on hold, Nepal is asking suppliers to bring gasoline and kerosene by airplane before the Himalayan country begins celebrating its biggest festival of the year, and for the first time is looking to import fuel from China. Some schools have closed because there is no gasoline for buses. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Nepalese people crowd the roof of a public bus in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Struggling with a fuel shortage after Indian shipments went on hold, Nepal is asking suppliers to bring gasoline and kerosene by airplane before the Himalayan country begins celebrating its biggest festival of the year, and for the first time is looking to import fuel from China. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese man reads a notice at a closed fuel station in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Struggling with a fuel shortage after Indian shipments went on hold, Nepal is asking suppliers to bring gasoline and kerosene by airplane before the Himalayan country begins celebrating its biggest festival of the year, and for the first time is looking to import fuel from China. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Nepalese people wait for their turn to fill fuel In their motorbikes at gas station run by Nepalese army in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Struggling with a fuel shortage after Indian shipments went on hold, Nepal is asking suppliers to bring gasoline and kerosene by airplane before the Himalayan country begins celebrating its biggest festival of the year, and for the first time is looking to import fuel from China. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese schoolgirl plays outside her school in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Struggling with a fuel shortage after Indian shipments went on hold, Nepal is asking suppliers to bring gasoline and kerosene by airplane before the Himalayan country begins celebrating its biggest festival of the year, and for the first time is looking to import fuel from China. Some schools have closed because there is no gasoline for the school buses. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese schoolboy rides his bicycle past vehicles lined up to fill fuel in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Struggling with a fuel shortage after Indian shipments went on hold, Nepal is asking suppliers to bring gasoline and kerosene by airplane before the Himalayan country begins celebrating its biggest festival of the year, and for the first time is looking to import fuel from China. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2015, file photo, Nepalese motorists wait for their turn to fill fuel in their motorbikes at a fuel pump run by the Nepalese army in Kathmandu, Nepal. Struggling with a fuel shortage after Indian shipments went on hold, Nepal is asking suppliers to bring gasoline and kerosene by airplane before the Himalayan country begins celebrating its biggest festival of the year, and for the first time is looking to import fuel in from China. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)
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KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Nepal's fuel crisis eased slightly Tuesday as the Himalayan nation began issuing gasoline for private vehicles while also reopening a northern border crossing with China that had been damaged by April's devastating earthquake.

Lines of cars and motorcycles stretched for kilometers (miles) from gasoline pumps in Kathmandu, as people rushed to fill up before the Hindu festival of Dasain, the country's biggest holiday. The government said it was only allowing a one-time sale of 15 liters (4 gallons) per vehicle until the fuel shortage is over.

Meanwhile on the southern border, where supplies have been blocked for weeks by protests, 101 trucks including 63 carrying some type of fuel crossed Tuesday at the Jogbani border crossing, according to police official Pramod Kharel.

It was the biggest shipment of fuel into Nepal in more than two weeks.

Nepal has been hobbled by the fuel crisis, which started when Indian trucks began halting at the border after Nepal adopted a new constitution. The constitution angered ethnic Madhesi groups, who are now demanding it be amended.

Nepal quickly accused India of imposing a blockade to force the government to meet the demands of Madhesis, who have close ties in India.

India denies there is any official blockade, saying truckers are simply afraid to cross into areas of protest. It has not explained why truckers were not afraid when the groups were protesting for weeks before the constitution was adopted.

Related: Tensions high along Nepal-India border:

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NTP: Nepal, India uneasy neighbors
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China-Nepal border point reopens after earthquake repairs
A television set at a Nepalese home shows âno signalâ message after Nepalese television networks suspended Indian TV channel broadcasts in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Many Nepalese believe that India has been retaliating against their government since Sept. 20, when it approved a new constitution seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community â the Madhesi â living in Nepal's border districts.(AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 photo, Nepalese motorists wait for their turn to fill fuel on their motorbikes at a fuel pump run by the Nepalese police in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal is running out of gasoline and Medical supplies are becoming scarce after an unofficial economic blockade imposed by neighboring India from where Nepal gets almost all its essential supplies. Many Nepalese believe that India is retaliating against their government for approving a new Constitution that is seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 photo, a protester affiliated with Maoist Communist Center Nepal waves a flag during a protest against India near the Indian embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal is running out of gasoline and Medical supplies are becoming scarce after an unofficial economic blockade imposed by neighboring India from where Nepal gets almost all its essential supplies. Many Nepalese believe that India is retaliating against their government for approving a new Constitution that is seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 photo, Nepalese people look at posters of Nepalese and English movies at a cinema hall in Kathmandu, Nepal. Many Nepalese believe that India is retaliating against their government for approving a new Constitution that is seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts. As anger and tension continues to grow cable television networks have decided to suspend broadcasting Indian TV channels from Tuesday, while a Communist political group has decided to ban the screening of hugely popular Bollywood films.(AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 photo, a Nepalese policeman tries to put off the burning effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest by Nepalese youth in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal is running out of gasoline and Medical supplies are becoming scarce after an unofficial economic blockade imposed by neighboring India from where Nepal gets almost all its essential supplies. Many Nepalese believe that India is retaliating against their government for approving a new Constitution that is seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 photo, protesters affiliated with Maoist Communist Center Nepal hold placards against India near the Indian embassy during a protest in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal is running out of gasoline and Medical supplies are becoming scarce after an unofficial economic blockade imposed by neighboring India from where Nepal gets almost all its essential supplies. Many Nepalese believe that India is retaliating against their government for approving a new Constitution that is seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified MarxistâLeninist) leader Khadga Prasad Oli speaks during a press meet in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Oli, who is expected to soon become Nepalâs next prime minister under a power-sharing deal between the countryâs two ruling parties, said India âshould not delay in welcoming our new constitution.â (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 photo, A Nepalese cab driver waits for his turn to fill fuel on his cab at a fuel pump run by the Nepalese police in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal is running out of gasoline and Medical supplies are becoming scarce after an unofficial economic blockade imposed by neighboring India from where Nepal gets almost all its essential supplies. Many Nepalese believe that India is retaliating against their government for approving a new Constitution that is seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
FILE â In this Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 file photo, Nepalese oil tankers and commercial trucks stand stranded near a gate that marks the Nepalese border with India, in Birgunj, Nepal. Nepal is running out of gasoline and Medical supplies are becoming scarce after an unofficial economic blockade imposed by neighboring India from where Nepal gets almost all its essential supplies. Many Nepalese believe that India is retaliating against their government for approving a new Constitution that is seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts. (AP Photo/Ram Sarraf, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 file photo, Nepalese policemen face protestors belonging to ethnic and religious groups dissatisfied with Nepal's new constitution adopted on Sunday, in Birgunj, a town bordering India in Nepal. Nepalâs border districts had for months witnessed low-level violence by the Madhesi community when the draft constitution was being debated and hours after the constitution was passed on Sept. 20, the violence escalated. More than 45 people have been killed in the protests leading up to the constitution and while protests and tensions continue to grow, there have been no deaths in the last 10 days. (AP Photo/Ram Sarraf, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015 file photo, Nepalese men, mostly from Madhesi community, protest against the new constitution outside the Nepalese embassy in New Delhi, India. Nepalâs border districts had for months witnessed low-level violence by the Madhesi community when the draft constitution was being debated and hours after the constitution was passed on Sept. 20, the violence escalated. More than 45 people have been killed in the protests leading up to the constitution and while protests and tensions continue to grow, there have been no deaths in the last 10 days.(AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal, File)
FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 file photo, copies of the newly adopted constitution lie bundled together for distribution to lawmakers at the constituent assembly hall in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal is running out of gasoline and Medical supplies are becoming scarce after an unofficial economic blockade imposed by neighboring India from where Nepal gets almost all its essential supplies. Many Nepalese believe that India is retaliating against their government for approving a new Constitution that is seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)
FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 file photo, an ethnic Madhesi man holds a banner that reads âHail Madhesh Hail Madhesi. Black Day,â during a protest against the countryâs new constitution saying lawmakers ignored their concerns over how state borders should be defined, in Birgunj, Nepal. Nepalâs border districts had for months witnessed low-level violence by the Madhesi community when the draft constitution was being debated and hours after the constitution was passed on Sept. 20, the violence escalated. More than 45 people have been killed in the protests leading up to the constitution and while protests and tensions continue to grow, there have been no deaths in the last 10 days.(AP Photo/ Manish Paudel, File)
FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014 file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shakes hands with Nepalese Army chief Gaurav Shumsher Rana, left, as he stands with his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala, third right, upon arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. Giant neighbor India surrounds Nepal from three sides and has major political and economic influence over the Himalayan nation, which depends on it for all of its oil supplies and much of its trade. Over the last few years, unnerved by a swiftly growing Chinese presence, New Delhi has stepped up engagement. Shortly after he took office Modi made a much publicized visit to Kathmandu, the first by an Indian prime minister in 17 years. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)
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Indian Oil Corp. - which supplies all of Nepal's fuel - said only 6,000 tons of gasoline and diesel had been delivered in the first half of October - not even a quarter of the usual two-week supply of about 30,000 tons. The company has yet to assess its losses.

"There are security concerns," said Indrajit Bose, a senior company official, explaining why the trucks haven't crossed the border. "Even though the tankers have been loaded, the drivers are unwilling to go in."

The main border point at Birgunj, which handles 60-70 percent of India-Nepal trade, remained closed Tuesday while protesters continued to rally on the Nepalese side. About 100 kilometers (62 miles) away at the crossing in Lahan, Madhesi villagers said they were also hard hit because of the fuel shortage, but would continue their protests.

"In the past, we have protested and we have been promised many things. But those promises were never kept. Now we will continue until our demands are met," said 48-year-old Ashok Swanaar, accusing the government of dismissing Madhesis as "outsiders" despite their having lived in Nepal for generations.

The Madhesis oppose the new constitution because it divides Nepal into seven states, with some borders slicing through the Madhesis' ancestral homeland in the southern plains. The Madhesis, along with several other small ethnic groups, want the states to be larger and to be given more autonomy over local matters.

Talks last week made little progress, though the country's new prime minister appointed the leader of a smaller Madhesi group to be one of his deputy premiers. The larger group was unimpressed, and vowed to continue agitating until its demands were fully met.

"We will stop only after constitutional amendments have been made to address our demands," said Upendra Yadav, one of the leaders of the United Democratic Madhesi Front.

Yadav said the group was asking for the state border to be adjusted, electoral constituencies redrawn, more parliamentary representation for ethnic minorities, and the guarantee of more government jobs.

Meanwhile in northern Nepal, a border point with China that was damaged by April's devastating earthquake reopened Tuesday.

India and China are major trading partners of Nepal, which is sandwiched between the giant Asian rivals, but all traffic with China ceased when the two main trading points between the countries were badly damaged in the earthquake that killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands without homes.

On Tuesday, authorities reopened the high-altitude Jilung crossing linking Nepal with southwestern Tibet, which is generally used for bringing Chinese clothing, furniture, electronic goods and household items into Nepal, the point's management committee head, Sun Lijun, told China's official Xinhua News Agency.

But while officials were ready to process vehicles across the border, no trucks showed up on Tuesday, according to Nepalese customs official Durga Subedi.

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Associated Press writer Muneeza Naqvi in New Delhi contributed to this report.

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