Aid reaches quake-hit Nepal villagers as death toll passes 5,000.

GORKHA, Nepal: Hungry and desperate villagers rushed towards relief helicopters in remote areas of Nepal Tuesday, begging to be airlifted to safety, four days after a monster earthquake killed more than 5,000 people.

“The ground keeps shaking, even this morning it did. Every time it feels like we will be swallowed, that we will die now. I want to get out of here!” said Sita Gurung, 24, whose home had been wrecked.

As the Himalayan nation’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said getting help to remote areas was a “major challenge“, aid finally began reaching areas that had to fend for themselves since Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake.

In a televised address late Tuesday, Koirala declared three days of national mourning for the 5,057 people known to have perished in Nepal alone.

More than 100 people died in neighbouring countries such as India and China.

Around 8,000 people had been injured while the United Nations estimated that eight million people had been affected.

Among the dead were 18 climbers who were at Mount Everest base camp when an avalanche triggered by the quake flattened everything in its path. The victims included two American climbers, an Australian and a Chinese.

Countries far and wide have joined the relief effort in what is one of Asia’s poorest countries, with neighbouring India playing a leading role.

In Gorkha, one of the worst-hit districts, terrified residents ran with outstretched arms towards an Indian army helicopter to plead for food and water.

An AFP journalist on board saw scores of houses across several villages in the district turned into twisted mounds of wood and corrugated tin roofs.

“We haven’t had any food here since the earthquake. Everything has changed, we don’t have anything left here,” Gurung told AFP, gesturing towards what was left of her home in the village of Lapu.

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