Half a million tents are urgently needed for the huge number of people forced from their homes by Nepal’s devastating earthquake, a government minister said Wednesday, as rescue efforts continue in the stricken nation.

Minendra Rijal, Nepal’s minister of information and communications, said relief operations were underway, but that much more needs to be done.

“Life is returning to normal, but it will be some time to be completely normal,” he said. “We have still not been able to properly manage to provide relief.”

Rijal wasn’t able to put a precise number on those made homeless by Saturday’s devastating quake.

U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said Wednesday that 1.7 million children are now in urgent need of aid in the areas worst-hit by the earthquake as it launched a $50 million appeal to get help to them.

“The lives of so many children have been torn apart and they are in desperate need of life-saving support, including clean water, shelter and sanitation,” said Tomoo Hozumi, the agency’s Nepal representative.

“Without a safe water supply, waterborne diseases remain huge risks for children. Many families are struggling simply to protect themselves from the sun and rain, and we only expect needs to grow in the coming days.”


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