AFP / Prakash Mathema Source: usaid.gov WASHINGTON, D.C. - Our thoughts are with the people of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck central Nepal today, affecting more than 6.6 million people and causing widespread damage and destruction. USAID is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to the region and is providing an initial $1 million in emergency assistance as we assess humanitarian needs in cooperation with the Government of Nepal. USAID is also activating an Urban Search and Rescue Team to accompany disaster experts. The earthquake, which hit just northwest of Nepal's densely populated capital, Kathmandu, has caused numerous buildings to collapse and made some roads impassable. It also triggered an avalanche in the Mount Everest region and aftershocks of a considerable magnitude. In addition to the DART, USAID staff based in Bangkok, Thailand and Washington, D.C. are monitoring the situation closely in coordination with U.S. mission disaster relief officers in the region. The American people have a proud and generous history of providing help during times of crisis. USAID remains committed to helping the people of Nepal and the region during this difficult time. Following a 7.9 earthquake on April 25, Nepal has experienced numerous aftershocks, including a 6.7 earthquake at around 1 pm local time on April 26. Cell phone and internet service continue to be intermittent. Many roads are crowded with people and transportation is difficult. Many buildings have been damaged, and many other buildings (including one major hospital) have been evacuated due to structural integrity issues. If you are in a safe location, please shelter in place. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid large crowds. Embassy personnel are present at both the Embassy (in the Maharajgunj neighborhood) and at the alternate command post at the “Phora Durbar” American Club in Central Kathmandu (near the Thamel neighborhood, which is popular among backpackers). Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport temporarily suspended operations after the April 25 earthquake and the major aftershock on April 26, but has since resumed operations. Travelers are encouraged to check with their airline to confirm flight status. The earthquake and aftershocks have also triggered avalanches that have impacted the area near Everest Base Camp, resulting in many deaths and missing persons. Anyone looking for a U.S. citizen can write to NepalEmergencyUSC@state.gov. Please include your name, contact information and relation to the U.S. citizen you are seeking, as well as the full name, date of birth, passport number (if known) and last known location of the U.S. citizen. The Embassy will provide additional updates when possible. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Nepal enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Regularly monitor the State Department's website at http://travel.state.gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Nepal at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_980.html. For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website. Contact the U.S. Embassy Kathmandu for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter at https://mobile.twitter.com/travelgov and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/travelgov. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is located in the Maharajgunj neighborhood of Kathmandu and is open Monday - Friday from 8 am - 5 pm, tel. 011 977-1-423-4000 (if dialing from the U.S.) and 423-4000 within Nepal. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the after-hours emergency number is 011 977-1-400-7266 or 400-7269.