- Associated Press - Sunday, April 26, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - Nepalis in New York City held vigils and sought ways to help Sunday after a devastating earthquake tore across the tiny South Asian country.

A prayer vigil was held at a plaza in the Jackson Heights section of Queens and a candlelight vigil was planned for Sunday evening for the same location. Calls for people to donate to aid groups were being posted on social media.

“Right now I feel really hopeless,” said Sarun Shrestha, 19, whose mother and extended family lives in Kathmandu. She said three of her mother’s brothers were killed.

Her relatives “are really panicked and they don’t know what to do,” she said.

The U.S. Census estimates there are about 3,000 Nepalis in New York City, although others say the number is higher.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Saturday caused massive devastation, with more than 2,500 people killed and thousands injured. It brought down buildings and even a monument, and set off avalanches on Mount Everest.

Pralay Rajbhandari, who organized the morning event, called on people to donate whatever they could.

“It’s one of the biggest disasters our country has ever felt,” the 30-year-old said.

He said his parents and younger sister were alive and ok, but that half of their family home had been destroyed.

“It is painful” to be so far away, he said. He can’t look at photos of the destruction any more.

“It’s very devastating,” he said. “I’m heartbroken.”

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