A SALISBURY charity that is leading the response to the earthquake in Nepal is asking for donations to help rebuild the shattered country.

The Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT) is one of the largest Non Government Organisations in Nepal and its centre in Kathmandu is one of the few buildings to have survived the 7.9-magnitude quake on Saturday.

All 300 staff working for the charity are safe but the long process of checking the health of the 6,600 Gurkha veterans has only just begun.

Of the 21 buildings across the country that are run by the GWT, three have been badly damaged, with Gorkha and Lamjung districts the worst affected.

Karen England from the trust said that it had set up an earthquake response fund and was hoping people could donate to the charity.

She said: “We currently have 50 local people who have had their homes destroyed sheltering in our centre in Kathmandu.

“It is ironic that this devastation has come in the 200th anniversary of Gurkha’s representing the British Armed Forces.”

The charity has now deployed its medical staff to help those affected and is also assessing what damage has been done to the 125 schools it has built.

Money raised will help pay emergency hardship grants to veterans who have lost their homes in the disaster.

General Sir Peter Wall, Colonel Commandant of the Brigade of Gurkhas and chairman of the board of trustees, said: “We in the Brigade and in The Gurkha Welfare Trust stand ready to do whatever we need to once the situation becomes clearer.

“Meanwhile the people of Nepal are in the forefront of our thoughts and prayers.”

The government of Nepal has declared a state of emergency.

When the Journal went to press on Wednesday, the disaster had claimed more than 5,000 lives with more than 10,000 injured.

Nirmal Gurung, a Gurkha veteran who now lives in Salisbury, said communication with family and friends in the country remained difficult as the earthquake had destroyed phone lines and internet access.

“The people in Nepal are living in great fear of aftershocks,” he said. “Many people are sleeping outside which isn’t very good because it gets very cold at night.”

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has said the government is being overwhelmed by the scale of the catastrophe as rescuers struggle to reach remote Himalayan areas and heavy rain worsens the plight of hundreds of thousands of people camped out in the open.

n To donate to the earthquake response fund, visit gwt.org.uk/donate/earthquake.