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Residents of the Dakotas affected by Nepal earthquake

RAPID CITY (AP) — A South Dakota doctor is planning to travel to his home country of Nepal to help victims of the earthquake that killed more than 4,000 people.

Meanwhile, other residents of the Dakotas who have family and friends in the South Asian country have learned their loved ones are safe, while others still await word.

Binod Dhungana is among a dozen people from Nepal who work at Rapid City Regional Hospital. He said his family in Nepal survived the temblor that struck at the weekend, but that he has friends there who are suffering.

"When people in the country are suffering and me being a doctor, if I don't go and help in this difficult time, then there's no objective of my life," he said.

Dhungana is active in the America Nepal Medical Foundation, and plans to stay in the country through May.

While Dhungana knows that his family is OK, others aren't so lucky.

Sarah Bradley, of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, told KEVN-TV that her sister and a friend have been in Nepal hiking, and they haven't been heard from in a week. She said it's an anxious time.

Members of the Nepalese community in Fargo, North Dakota, which has a large immigrant population, also are praying that family and friends are safe or will remain safe.

"I feel helpless," Mohammad Shakir told WDAY-TV. "I'm a thousand some miles apart from my family. I'm glad my family is OK. I hope mom will be fine, but life has been changed."

Nick Schwieters, of Bismarck, North Dakota, told The Bismarck Tribune that his wife and two of her friends, one of whom is a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, had just left the capital of Kathmandu when the magnitude-7.8 quake struck Saturday. They quickly notified the mother of his wife's friends that they were OK, but Schwieters had some anxious moments while waiting for word.

"It was awful sitting there watching all the reports," he said. "I assumed the worst."