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Nepal earthquake: Number of missing Canadians a mystery

05/01/2015 01:02 EDT | Updated 05/01/2016 05:12 EDT
The number of missing people after Nepal's deadly earthquake is likely in the thousands, with the tally for Canadians who have yet to make contact with home remaining a mystery.

Up to 1,000 Europeans are among the missing, a European Union official said Friday.

The Canadian government has no such estimates. The Foreign Affairs Department said in an email Thursday that search and rescue efforts are continuing, and it's "too early to make a determination on how many Canadians are missing in Nepal."

"The Emergency Watch and Response Centre is currently reviewing files of a number of Canadians who are believed to have been in the affected area at the time the earthquake hit," the email said. 

Lynne Yelich, Canada's minister of state (foreign affairs and consular), said Thursday about 500 Canadians were in the country when the earthquake struck, but that many had since left.

"That's all we have," she said. "We have no indication of being able to give you a breakdown."

The confirmed death toll from last Saturday's disaster has risen to 6,260, with 14,357 injured, according to the Nepalese government.

There is no number for the missing, but bodies are still being pulled from the debris of ruined buildings, while rescue workers have not been able to reach some remote areas.

The number of people missing from France, Italy and Spain is 221, according to checks made by Reuters with their governments.

Among the Canadians missing are Bruce and Kathy Macmillan, last known to be hiking near the quake's epicentre.

The St. Albert, Alta., couple had been hiking in Langtang National Park, on a trail the two traversed 35 years ago, shortly after they were married.

The Macmillans are experienced hikers who on this trip elected to not have a guide or a tent, and had planned to stay in teahouses during their trek. They had been travelling in Asia for six months.

They had plans to hike with their two adult sons in Nepal, and after arriving in Kathmandu early, decided at the last minute to hike into Langtang National Park. 

One son, Fraser Macmillan, flew out of Kathmandu on Wednesday, one of 96 Canadians airlifted out of the country by a C-17 transport plane. The other son stayed in New Delhi.

The family has set up a Facebook page to aid in the search. 

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