Children playing in rubble strewn with dead bodies in Nepal is a key concern for aid agencies, Unicef says.

It is estimated about 8 million people have been affected by the devastating 7.8 earthquake that shook the country on Saturday.

The international organisation is sending "plane loads" of gear into Nepal including food for infants and immunisation materials.

An elderly woman rests in a makeshift tent following an earthquake in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. Photo / Getty
An elderly woman rests in a makeshift tent following an earthquake in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. Photo / Getty

Sanitation issues were a key concern and Unicef has been working around the clock to establish temporary structures for medical care and trauma because many hospitals were full or unsafe.

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The next step would be to establish safe playing areas and temporary schools for children so at least part of their day would be "normal", Unicef New Zealand executive director Vivien Maidaborn said.

A relative of one of the victims of the earthquake that hit Nepal in Bhaktapur. Photo / AP
A relative of one of the victims of the earthquake that hit Nepal in Bhaktapur. Photo / AP

"The environment is obviously dangerous. The view is there's probably another 5000 bodies in the rubble. Children are just playing in that environment, that's what children naturally do. So we've got to create spaces where it's safe for kids to do that."

Ms Maidaborn said the aid response was about answering serious systematic issues at the same time as the immensely personal problems.

There was a real risk for infants if breastfeeding mothers lose their breast milk because there was no safe alternative.

A Nepalese policeman walks among earthquake debris in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. Photo / Getty
A Nepalese policeman walks among earthquake debris in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. Photo / Getty

Immunisation to stop the spread of diseases such as measles was another priority, Ms Maidaborn said.

There was no running pipe water in the old city, no latrine facilities and a real danger of water-born illnesses, she said.

"We've got both a very intimate crises happening with families in grief, concerned about clean water and food, burning bodies of people on every street corner and at the same time we've got huge systemic issues.

"We're still in the very initial stages of response in Nepal and hampered by the inability to get big machinery into the old part of the town."

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Unicef had not sent New Zealand volunteers to Nepal because the organisation has a 60-strong team of experts based there, she said.

Three volunteers from the New Zealand Red Cross were deployed for Kathmandu on Tuesday.

The men were taking more than 300 kg of IT and telecommunications equipment to Nepal with them including radios, satellite communications and computer network gear.

Six other Red Cross emergency response units have been dispatched from around the world including a rapid deployment hospital, two basic health care units, two logistical units and one emergency relief unit.

Further New Zealand Red Cross aid workers will be deployed in coming days to assist with the response. World Vision is also rushing supplies to those in need in Nepal and plans to meet the immediate needs of 100,000 people in the worst hit areas by providing first aid kits, water, temporary shelter, hygiene supplies and blankets.

The organisation's Nepal operations director Phillip Ewert said work was being carried out in an urgent manner by his team who were sleeping in tents.

The death toll is expected to rise as response teams continue to trek to the most remote areas near the epicentre, he said.

"We know the clock is ticking for those impacted by the earthquake. Aid is a matter of life or death for many at this point. Our staff, as part of the humanitarian effort, are pushing to deploy aid under extreme conditions, well aware of that urgency."

To donate:

World Vision:

Nepal Earthquake Appeal

on 0800 90 5000

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

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

Himalayan Trust Rebuild Appeal: Visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/nepalearthquake
TEAR Fund: Visit TEAR fund.org.nz or call 0800 800 777