The Government is promising at least $1 million in aid to help Nepal following the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the country yesterday.

At least 1865 people have died, buildings have collapsed, power has been cut and infrastructure is damaged across the country. A state of emergency was announced this morning.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) has made contact with more than 110 New Zealanders to confirm they were safe.

The $1 million contribution would go to aid agencies active on the ground, Mr McCully said.

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A number of countries, including India and China, had deployed urban search and rescue or response teams.

"New Zealand has offered to assist, but at this stage it is clear that Nepal's close neighbours have been able to deploy teams rapidly," he said.

Mfat staff were continuing to confirm the wellbeing of New Zealanders in Nepal, he said.

"Given the scale of this disaster, and the fact that communications remain intermittent, it may take time to account for all the New Zealanders in the affected area."

Labour foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer said the Government was duty-bound to act immediately because of New Zealand's strong links to Nepal through Sir Edmund Hillary's legacy of support.

"Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. This is a tragedy on a massive scale and we cannot sit back and watch from the side-lines."

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said Cantabrians understood the trauma Nepalis were now suffering. She said councillors would meet on Tuesday to discuss how the city could help.

People search for survivors stuck under the rubble of a destroyed building. Photo / EPA
People search for survivors stuck under the rubble of a destroyed building. Photo / EPA

"Our hearts go out to the people of Nepal -- from Christchurch to Kathmandu -- we offer our love and support," she said.

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"We also know that early financial assistance is what is needed, so we will be coordinating a fundraising effort that will enable everyone to contribute.

"All our libraries and service centres will have donation buckets and we will be encouraging citizen-led initiatives."

Australia's Government has pledged A$5 million ($5.14m) in assistance, half of which will go to Australian non-government organisations.

Aid organisations from all over the world are rushing to lend a hand in the devastated country.

The Red Cross is mounting an international emergency response to the earthquake.

An injured person is treated outside the Medicare Hospital in Kathmandu. Photo / AP
An injured person is treated outside the Medicare Hospital in Kathmandu. Photo / AP

Nepal Red Cross staff are working on the ground to assist search and rescue efforts and administer first aid. Its blood bank in Kathmandu is also providing blood supplies to the main medical facilities in the capital.

Caritas Nepal is sending local help from India because Kathmandu Airport is closed, and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is appealing for donations to provide relief.

Oxfam India humanitarian response manager Zubin Zaman was on stand-by to go to Nepal and said his team had been working around the clock to coordinate with other aid agencies.

Unicef was using supplies such as water purification tablets, hygiene kits, tarpaulins and nutrition supplies to meet children's immediate needs in Nepal.

Unicef New Zealand executive director Vivien Maidaborn said the aid organisation was calling for more donations from New Zealanders.

"Every dollar donated will make an enormous difference to children who need urgent help," she said.

An injured child receives treatment outside Medicare Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal on Saturday. Photo / AP
An injured child receives treatment outside Medicare Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal on Saturday. Photo / AP

World Vision has 200 staff on the ground undertaking search and rescue operations as the first priority, followed by sourcing potable water, food, household supplies, temporary shelter and protection for children.

It reported hospitals in Kathmandu were in desperate need of wound management kits after an influx of injured patients and emergency shelter sites had opened up.

Oxfam Australia is sending a group of disaster specialists with supplies, while the head of World Vision Australia, Tim Costello, is flying to Nepal to assess the recovery effort.

World Vision relief experts are also being flown in from Bangladesh and India.

The New Zealand Nepal Society is taking donations through a local bank account to help quake victims.

Volunteers help with rescue work at the site of a building that collapsed. Photo / AP
Volunteers help with rescue work at the site of a building that collapsed. Photo / AP

TO DONATE:

Unicef: Visit unicef.org.nz/nepal or call 0800 243 575

World Vision: Visit worldvision.org.nz or call 0800 800 776

Oxfam: Visit oxfam.org.nz or call 0800 600 700

Red Cross: Visit redcross.org.nz or call 0800 Red Cross (0800 733 276)

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand: Visit caritas.org.nz or call 0900 4 11 11

New Zealand Nepal Society: Donations can be made to bank account number 01-0142-0053378-00