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Nepalese in Minnesota raising funds to aid earthquake victims

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The Nepali community in Minnesota is raising money to help those in their home country affected by the devastating earthquake that hit southern Asia Saturday.

The Association of Nepalis in Minnesota issued a fundraising plea on its website and Facebook page within hours of the disaster, which killed nearly 1,500 people so far and caused catastrophic damage to the capital, Kathmandu, and many villages.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake also caused avalanches on Mount Everest, which killed at least 14 climbers who were on the mountain and injured another 50, according to International Mountain Guides. One of those who died is American Dan Fredinburg, an executive at Google, NBC reports.

A Wisconsin man, 52-year-old Andy Land of Fond du Lac, was also in the base camp when the avalanche struck and he survived unharmed, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Nepal is a landlocked country in southern Asia, located between China and India. Its population of about 30 million lives in an area about the size of Tennessee, and it's one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.

Nepal is known for the Himalaya mountain range and is the home of Mount Everest and Annapurna. The country is also the birthplace of Buddha and is the only official Hindu kingdom in the world.

The Association of Nepalis in Minnesota estimates about 3,000 ­people of ethnic Nepali, Bhutanese and Tibetan heritage live in the Twin ­Cities area, the Star Tribune reports.

This appears to be the worst earthquake to hit Nepal since an 8.1 quake in 1934 killed more than 10,000 people, according to CNN.

The U.S. government is providing $1 million in immediate assistance to Nepal and sending American disaster response teams, according to the U.S. Embassy in Nepal.

Several international aid organizations are accepting donations to respond to the earthquake. NBC has a list of them.

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