KATHMANDU, Nepal — Monks formed a human chain with locals to remove debris at one of Nepal's holiest sites on Wednesday, taking matters into their own hands amid mounting frustration over perceived government inaction following the country's devastating earthquake.
Many in the hillside neighborhood around Swayambhunath Stupa — also known as the Monkey Temple — complained that Nepal's government had not sent rescue workers to help find people trapped in the rubble.
Swayambhunath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was badly damaged in the earthquake on Saturday which left more than 5,000 people dead.
Locals were forced to dig through the debris with their hands until volunteer searchers from China and Nepal's armed police showed up to join the search. Some residents told NBC News they wanted more police to guard the site through the night.
Earlier, more than 200 Nepalis protested outside parliament to demand the government boost the number of buses going to the interior hills and improve aid distribution.
Nepalese officials have acknowledged that help has been slow to arrive in some areas.
"This is a disaster on an unprecedented scale. There have been some weaknesses in managing the relief operation," Nepal's Communication Minister Minendra Rijal said late on Tuesday. "We will improve this from Wednesday."
Despite the widespread dissatisfaction with the government response, an elderly monk who identified himself only as Sherab said he was not that worried about looters near Swayambhunath.
"I've heard the rumors, but we are not personally worried about robbers or thieves, our main concern is helping the people of this community through these difficult days," he said.
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— Ed Flanagan and Ian Williams
Reuters contributed to this report.