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Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Tuesday that 39 Italians remain unaccounted for after Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, which may have killed as many as 10,000 people, including at least four Italians. Gentiloni stressed that the fact that the authorities had been unable to contact these 39 people “does not mean that they are missing”. Gentiloni explained that the authorities had managed to account for 347 Italians in Nepal, including four people who are confirmed to have died in the quake.

“The situation is complicated and confused,” Gentiloni said during a visit to the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing. “First we worked to track down our compatriots and up to now we have found 347, unfortunately including four people who lost their lives”. The head of the foreign ministry’s crisis unit, Claudio Taffuri, told the Radio Anch’io station Tuesday that 18 Italians who were unaccounted for after last weekend’s earthquake in Nepal were tracked down overnight.

The 18, however, were not among the 40-odd people that the foreign ministry said Monday were missing. On Monday, four Italians were confirmed to have died in Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake – cavers Gigliola Mancinelli and Oskar Piazza and trekkers Renzo Benedetti and Marco Pojer. Police in Kathmandu said Tuesday that 4,485 people are confirmed dead and over 8,235 are injured. But Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala was quoted by Reuters as saying that the death toll could reach 10,000. Around 6.6 million people have been affected by the quake and an estimated one million have been made homeless.

Ansa Eng 

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