Nepal is on a “war footing” as it tries to help survivors of the massive earthquake that struck the country on Saturday, the prime minister says.

Sushil Koirala told Reuters that the country’s government and emergency services are overwhelmed in the aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude quake, that has killed over 4,000 people.

The Nepalese government has appealed for heavy machinery like bulldozers and diggers to help in the search effort and for specialised medical staff to cope with the thousands of people needing treatment

The current death toll of the incident is 4,349, with 8,517 injured, but those number continue to climb as emergency workers reach remote towns and villages near to the epicentre.

The UN estimates that eight million people have been affected by the quake, more than a quarter of the country’s population, and that there are 1.4 million people in need of food assistance.

Water, food and electricity are in short supply and the importation of emergency supplies are being hampered by congestion at Kathmandu airport. While main feeder roads are open, many side roads also remain blocked and inaccessible, preventing the dispersion of aid.

The earthquake has highlighted the poverty of many of Nepal’s 28 million population, half of whom did not have access to improved sanitation and live below the poverty line, according to Oxfam.

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