- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Survivors of the devastating Nepal earthquake and family members of a number of Americans missing in the country are holding out hope that their loved ones will return home.

A U.S. official familiar with the cases, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about them, said federal officials were still tracking the cases of three missing Americans in Nepal.

Four Americans died in the April 25 earthquake, which killed more than 8,000 people and was the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal in more than 80 years. Another earthquake Tuesday in Nepal complicated relief efforts and caused new avalanches in disaster-stricken areas.

The daughter of Dawn Habash, a 57-year-old yoga instructor from Augusta, Maine, went to Nepal to try to search for her mother before avalanches forced her to evacuate.

In Seattle, family members have raised more than $50,000 via a crowdfunding website to help find Bailey Meola and Sydney Schumacher, two 19-year-olds who were trekking in Nepal when the first earthquake hit.

Yasmine Habash and family have raised nearly $26,000 through a crowdfunding site, and kept family and friends up to date about the search with a Facebook page. Yasmine Habash said searching for her mother in the South Asian country has been an “indescribable experience.” Dawn Habash was last seen by a companion in the Langtang Valley area, a part of the country devastated by the initial earthquake.

Elsewhere in Maine, earthquake survivor Kathleen Nolan, of Kennebunk, said she has reached out to the family via social media to offer support. Nolan was stranded in Langtang National Park for three days after the earthquake, seeking shelter with other hikers against a mountain wall, until she was airlifted by helicopter.

Nolan said boulders “the size of a Volkswagen” were raining down while she and others sought shelter, and she was sure she was going to die.

“Honest to God, I don’t know how I survived. And the people around me survived,” Nolan said.

More than 100 people gathered in Seattle on Friday to hold a candlelight vigil for Meola and Schumacher. The two women were also in the Langtang area at the time of the earthquake. They had been traveling after graduating from high school last year.


Associated Press writer Tim Sullivan in New Delhi contributed to this report.

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