Hugh Sheridan with his younger brother Zachary Photo: Facebook

Hugh Sheridan with his younger brother Zachary Photo: Facebook

Hugh Sheridan with his younger brother Zachary Photo: Facebook

Hugh Sheridan with his younger brother Zachary Photo: Facebook

The Seven Network’s flagship current affairs program Sunday Night has come under fire after it sent a film crew with actor Hugh Sheridan to document the star’s search for his younger brother Zachary in devastated Nepal.

The network also sent along its celebrity doctor Andrew Rochford, however Sheridan’s 20-year-old brother was located safe and well in a remote village. Thank you for all your messages, I apologize for not responding yet, the service here is virtually impossible. Just got good wifi for the first time and I’m overwhelmed by what I read. I have no update from Zach yet, I’ll let you all know as soon as I do. Put your prayers into the people still unaccounted for and for #nepal the damage here is unbelievable and they are a beautiful people. I’ve spent the day trying to be useful for the local people. Donate to organisations you know are legit and that your money will definitely reach the people. Love to you all and thank you. #nepal #earthquake #donate #speakloveA photo posted by Hugh Sheridan (@hugh_sheridan) on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:41am PDT

Many badly damaged villages in parts of Nepal unserviced by roads have received little or no assistance. Aid workers in Nepal say they are having trouble getting the resources they need to help victims in remote areas.

During Wednesday night’s Seven News bulletin the network ran a promo for the upcoming Sunday Night story immediately after its news report on the rising death toll and worsening conditions four days after the earthquake struck.

Titled “Moving Mountains”, the Sunday Night promo featured Dr Rochford, who first came to fame as a contestant on Channel Nine’s The Block, conducting a dramatic interview with Sheridan, who says: “I would have climbed Everest to find him.”SUNDAY: Follow Hugh Sheridan’s journey to find his brother and see how you can help victims of the #Nepal earthquake https://t/gIcRemuke1— sunday night (@sundaynighton7) April 30, 2015

Following the promo social media sites such as Twitter erupted with condemnation of the network’s handling of the story, amid claims it was “cashing in” and trivialising the situation by focussing on a celebrity while thousands of people in Nepal mourned.

When news of the earthquake first emerged last Saturday Sheridan wrote on his Twitter account: “Please. Anyone who is awake, please pray for my little brother Zachary who is on Mt Everest, I’d appreciate every prayer you have spare x”Please. Anyone who is awake, please pray for my little brother Zachary who is on Mt Everest, I’d appreciate every prayer you have spare x— Hugh Sheridan (@hugh_sheridan) April 25, 2015

A Seven spokeswoman confirmed Sunday Night’s recently installed executive producer Steve Taylor had approached Sheridan, who was in Los Angeles, on Sunday and invited him to join a news crew travelling to Nepal.

Within 24 hours Sheridan revealed he was travelling to Nepal to search for his brother. Zachary Sheridan notified his loved ones that he was safe and well while his big brother and his entourage were in transit to Nepal.

“We know Hugh very well, we were reaching out and at that point no one knew if Zachary was alive,” the spokeswoman said, confirming that Rochford was dispatched from Sydney to LA to meet with Sheridan and the Sunday Night crew already there working on a separate story before flying on to Nepal.

“Our people there and Hugh are now committed to providing whatever help they can in the situation they have found themselves in, this is a legitimate story and all media outlets are covering it.

“Of course we are not going to muscle in and hire helicopters when they are needed to rescue people … that is not how we operate,” she said, denying that focusing on a celebrity was trivialising the plight of the thousands of others affected. “People need to look a little deeper.”   Thank you everyone for your messages and your kind words. I’m on my way to Nepal now and will head toward base camp to try and find Zachary. I will be with a small crew helping with a chopper, a dr and we will have a satellite phone available for any Australian there who needs to reach home and tell their loved ones they’re ok, I know so many of us are still waiting to hear but communication is down. Stay positive everyone, I feel optimistic that he is alive and stuck. I know that the news have been eager to talk to my mum but it would be respectful to leave her alone at this time. My heart goes out to every family who is still waiting to hear, I can’t imagine how they feel at Mt Everest. I’m looking forward to seeing my little brother and getting him out safely. This was the last picture he sent me, he sure captured her beauty. #family #nepal #australia #speakloveA photo posted by Hugh Sheridan (@hugh_sheridan) on Apr 26, 2015 at 7:10pm PDT

On Thursday morning News Corp reported that a Sunday Night production crew had approached local authorities in Nepal to help source a helicopter but there were none available as they are all being used to run ­important aid missions­ and to rescue the sick.

“It was apparent that others had more pressing needs, this is why the brothers have not yet been physically reunited,” a Channel Seven spokeswoman was quoted saying.

Hugh and his brother Tom were together with Sunday Night when they learned the news they’d been hoping for, that their younger brother Zach was safe. Until late yesterday he’d been unable to get a message out of the remote area he had been travelling in.

The program, along with Seven’s Health Editor and Australian Red Cross Ambassador Dr Andrew Rochford, is “continuing to assist Hugh and Tom to reach their brother and endeavouring to provide medical and communications assistance to others in Nepal affected by the earthquake.”

When Sheridan arrived at the international airport in Kathmandu his Seven “handlers” told rival media he was not able to comment despite his story becoming headline news in Australia.

The network has been promoting the “full story” to air on Sunday Night this weekend.

with Matt Wade in Nepal

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