Nepal native, U of M researcher, just wants to hear from dad

Nepal's worst earthquake in more than 80 years claimed more than 4,000 lives, and people from all over the world are fearing the worst for family members who live there. That includes Minnesota man Surendra Dawadi.

He grew up in a tiny mountainous village in Nepal in the shadows of where this weekend's powerful earthquake was centered. He says his village was completely destroyed.

"I can see the epicenter from my village, my house actually," he said. "It's collapsed. All the houses are not standing. There is no shelter, no food."

Dawadi is working on a post-doctoral research project at the University of Minnesota, just one of the several thousand Nepali expats living in Minnesota.

Despite a shattered infrastructure, friends were able to send him cell phone photos of the initial devastation in his home region, and while he has been assured that his 70-year-old father survived the deadly, 7.8 magnitude quake, he still hasn't been able to hear his dad's voice.

"I couldn't talk to him. There is no communication. There is no phone service, so I was not able to talk to him. I've been calling 100 times per day," he said.

The death count is expected to rise as search and recovery crews make their way to the most remote Nepali villages. Given the devastation, the Red Cross insists the next 72 hours will be critical. Meanwhile, the United States is ramping up its aid effort, the state department making an initial pledge of $10 million. The Pentagon is sending 2 cargo planes of food, water and medical supplies. The planes are also carrying two teams specializing in urban search-and-rescue operations.

The Association of Nepalis in Minnesota has set up a link on their website for donations that will be sent to the Red Cross and other relief efforts to help the victims. For more information, or to donate, go to 

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