SAURPANI, Nepal — Residents of remote mountain villages at the epicenter of Nepal’s powerful earthquake said on Monday that they were running out of food, and that two days after the quake they had seen no sign of outside assistance.
“We have no shelter, no food and all the bodies are scattered around,” said Parbati Dhakal, a woman from Saurpani, an ethnic Gurka village at the quake’s center, about 50 miles northwest of the capital, Katmandu.
Villagers described a landscape of destruction. There had been 1,300 houses in Saurpani, but one resident, Shankar Thapa, said, “All the houses collapsed.”
Several dozen villagers walked two hours down a jungle path on Monday to the banks of the Daraudi River to bury their dead.
They carried 11 bodies attached to bamboo poles and lowered them into holes along the riverbank. An excavator from a nearby construction site dug the graves and covered up all but two bodies with dirt and boulders. Families of the other two insisted on a traditional Hindu ritual, with funeral pyres made from sticks collected from the surrounding jungle.
Mr. Shankar, a former soldier in the Nepalese Army, pointed into the crowd at the relatives of the dead. “Father just buried, mother just buried, sister just buried.”
“We don’t even know how many people are missing,” he said.
On Monday night, Nepalese authorities raised the death toll to more than 3,800, but the full extent of the casualties and the damage was still unknown.
The magnitude-7.8 earthquake shook a vast portion of central Nepal on Saturday, from Mount Everest to Katmandu and points west. But as rescue teams began to arrive from around the world, much of the stricken area remained inaccessible, locked in mountainous terrain with some roads blocked by landslides.
Reaching this village in Gorkha district — in a green valley where terraced rice paddies climb up the mountainsides — requires a five-hour car ride from Katmandu and an overland trek beyond the spot where a landslide on Sunday blocked the road with boulders and mud.
No rescue crews or security forces were visible in the area on Monday. Helicopters passed overhead several times, but villagers said they were probably heading to Barpak, one of the worst affected towns, where at least 100 people are believed to have been killed in the earthquake.
Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official in Gorkha district, said the area was desperately in need of help.
“Things are really bad in the district, especially in remote mountain villages,” he told The Associated Press by telephone. “There are people who are not getting food and shelter. I have had reports of villages where 70 percent of the houses have been destroyed.”
He said that 223 people were confirmed dead in the district, but he presumed that “the number would go up because there are thousands who are injured.”
Villagers here were not expecting aid anytime soon.
Prakash Dhakal, a native of Saurpani who was in Katmandu when the earthquake struck, went to a government office on Sunday and pleaded with an official to send help.
“I asked them to send 25 young people to help bury our dead and search for the injured,” he said. “They told me: ‘We can’t even rescue the injured in Katmandu. How do you expect us to do anything for you now?’ ”
He said he feared there was more devastation to come. “The land is cracked,” he said. “We are worried there will be landslides.” Cracks run through some roads and through the jungle.
Along the hills and valleys near the epicenter, relatives who were working in Katmandu during the earthquake trekked back to their villages.
Dulbahadur Gurung, 27, walked two hours from where the bus dropped him off and was planning to walk another three hours to reach his village, Ranchok.
Before the quake there were around 150 houses there, but residents told him “there’s nothing left,” he said. “They have found 15 bodies — so far.”
Sturdy-looking stone houses were those that often collapsed. Bishesh Prasai, the project engineer for a hydroelectric dam on the Daraudi River, said a majority of deaths he was aware of occurred when thick stone masonry walls fell on people.
“Houses made with wood were not affected,” he said.
It is common in earthquake zones for heavier and larger homes to suffer more damage, said Suttisak Soralump, an earthquake expert and a professor at the geotechnical engineering division of the department of civil engineering of Kasetsart University in Bangkok. Earthen and stone structures can be more dangerous because they are unyielding, he said.
Here in Gorkha district on Monday, modern brick structures and wooden houses were left standing, and often looked unscathed, but houses built from stone masonry had collapsed into piles of rubble, revealing walls that were sometimes two feet thick.
Villagers said luck seemed to determine who lived and who died.
Nar Bahadur Nepali, a 37-year-old farmer, said most of the structures in his village had collapsed, including his house.
“We survived because there was a wedding in the village, and we were out in an open area,” he said. At least 60 or 70 more people would have died had it not been for the wedding, he said.
Mr. Nepali said he was struggling to feed his wife and three children and had been forced to borrow rice from neighbors.
“We have nothing now,” he said. “All the grains we stored are gone. We’ve had nothing from the government. We are sleeping on the road.”
In another remote area, in the north of the country, some of the injured survivors were flown to Katmandu for treatment.
Dawa Janba, who runs a lodge in Kyanjin Gompa, said he and his wife, Karchon Tamang, and their son, who has two broken legs, were taken to the capital by a helicopter, which he said had been sent to mainly rescue foreign travelers.
He said that as they flew over his home village, Langtang, which is about two to three days’ walk from his lodge, few homes appeared intact.
“From the helicopter, we could see the whole valley has been destroyed,” he said under a large canopy at the Kathmandu Medical College hospital, where his son was receiving treatment outdoors, with dozens of flies hovering around him and his mother as they lay on a thin mattress.
“The slides of snow and rocks covered everything,” Dawa Janba said.
He estimated that in Langtang, only a few of the 600 inhabitants would have survived. “Mostly they died in the snow avalanche,” he said.
Karchon Tamang added, “There is nothing left to go back to; everything is destroyed.”