This is the incredible moment a woman was pulled alive from the rubble 50 hours after she was buried alive by the earthquake in Nepal.

Video footage shows a rescue team from India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) dragging the Nepalese woman, who is conscious and appears to be talking, from the debris.

Kulish Anand, NDRF assistant commandant, said: "We got the information that a lady is stuck between two slabs. There is some cavity and she is alive."

The woman was treated at the scene and then taken to hospital in the Kathmandu, the country's capital.

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She is just one of the millions of Nepalis caught up in the 7.8-magnitude quake which rocked the country at midday on Saturday.

The Nepalese Prime Minister has said the country was on a "war footing" today and warned the death toll could rise from 4000 to 10,000 in the coming days.

The United Nations is estimating that eight million people have been affected by the earthquake and said it was releasing US$15 million from its central emergency response fund to help victims.

The funds will allow international humanitarian groups to scale up operations and provide shelter, water, medical supplies and logistical services, UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.

Citing government figures, Haq said a quarter of the country's population have been hit by the quake in 39 of Nepal's districts, with more than 1.4 million needing food assistance including 750,000 who live near the epicenter in poor quality housing.

The UN humanitarian country team for Nepal is coordinating international relief efforts with the government and a clearer picture of needs should emerge within the next 48 hours, he said.

The immediate priority is search and rescue, and removing debris to find survivors still trapped, he said.

Trucks carrying food were on their way to affected districts outside the hard-hit and densely-populated Kathmandu valley and distribution was expected to start today.

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Prime Minister Sushil Koirala ordered intensified rescue efforts and appealed for foreign supplies of tents and medicines.

"The government is doing all it can for rescue and relief on a war footing," Koirala said in an interview. "It is a challenge and a very difficult hour for Nepal."

Across central Nepal, hundreds of thousands of people are still living in the open without clean water or sanitation.

In the capital Kathmandu, youths and relatives of victims were digging into the ruins of destroyed buildings and landmarks.

"Waiting for help is more torturous than doing this ourselves," said Pradip Subba, searching for the bodies of his brother and sister-in-law in the debris of Kathmandu's historic Dharahara tower.

The 19th century minaret collapsed on Saturday as weekend sightseers clambered up its spiral stairs.

"Our hands are the only machine right now," said the 27-year-old, part of a group of locals pulling out bricks and blocks of concrete with cloth masks over their faces to ward off the stench of rotting bodies. "There is just no one from the government or the army to help us."

Scores of people were killed in the collapse of the tower.

Elsewhere in the capital's ancient Durbar Square, groups of young men cleared rubble from around an ancient temple, using pickaxes, shovels and their bare hands.

- Daily Mail