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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

7.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Nepal


Trails of destruction and a growing death toll left Nepal after a 7.8 magnitude earth quake hit the country last Saturday.  (Photos credit to www.nbcnews.com)

Powerful Earthquake

The 7.8 earthquake struck at noon on Saturday on the densely populated Kathmandu Valley. A 6.6 magnitude aftershock was felt an hour later and a number of smaller aftershocks rippled until Sunday morning. The epicenter of the earthquake was located 80 km north west of Kathmandu and has a shallow depth of 11 meters. US Geological survey calls the quake’s epicenter, which was located on a thrust fault, as one of the most seismically hazardous regions on earth.

Locals reported that the earthquake lasted for several minutes. As the earth’s shaking intensified, people rushed outside their homes and onto the streets. Large cracks opened up in the streets, floors and walls of houses. Several buildings collapsed and clouds of dust swirled around the ruins.

The powerful earthquake was even felt in neighboring places like India, Tibet, Pakistan, China, Lahore, Dhaka and Bangladesh. It even caused avalanche in Mt. Everest. The earthquake, which is of the same magnitude as the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 was said to be 22 times stronger than the one which hit Haiti in 2010.


Avalanche in Mt. Everest

The earthquake also triggered massive avalanches in Mt. Everest. The avalanche swept the Khumbu Ice Fall, which is one of Mt. Everest’s dangerous spots, and the Base Camp where most international climbing expeditions camp. 

The deadly avalanche has buried some people in their tents and has left around 30 people injured. As of writing, more than 200 climbers have already been rescued but an unspecified number of people are still missing. Other climbers have already left the base camp to look for safer places.

Damage to Life and Property

The earthquake has left more than 3000 people dead and more than 6,500 injured. Villages outside Kathmandu have also been buried by landslides so officials warned that the number of casualties may still rise with the continuation of the search and rescue operations.

Efforts are still pouring in to look for survivors and to rescue people which may have been trapped inside buildings. Authorities, volunteers, and locals are all digging through piles of bricks and rubbles by their bare hand to help recover the bodies of those who may have been buried alive in the collapsed structures.

The disaster has also left a huge extent of damage to Nepal in terms of property. Buildings and houses have been reduced to the ground leaving people camped up in tents out in the streets. Millions have been left starving and homeless.

In hospitals which have been affected by the powerful quake, doctors and nurses have been seen moving patients outside into the parking lots where thin mattresses have been spread to the ground. Still, a lot of injured people are filling up these hospitals and the hospital staffs are overwhelmed.

Cultural Loss

Apart from the damage caused to buildings and structures, the earthquake has also left damage to the cultural heritage of Nepal


The earthquake has reduced Nepal’s architectural jewels to the ground including the UNESCO-recognized monument, Dharahara Tower. The tower is one of Nepal’s landmarks which was built by Nepal’s royal rulers back in the 1800s. Other cultural landmarks which were heavily damaged by the earthquake include the Durbar Square in the Old City, the 16th century Vatsala Druga, buildings in Patan’s 3rd century Durbar Square and other century year old temples.

According to Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit, “this damage culturally speaking [is] an incalculable loss.”

International Aid

Meanwhile, while organized relief and rescue operations is still generally absent in the area as government officials and employees have been affected themselves, aid from different international agencies and foreign government have poured in the aftermath of the disaster.

However, though international rescue teams, donations and other forms of aid has been coming in, they’re still not enough as the United Nations have estimated more than 6 million people affected. What’s worse is that most of these people are located in remote areas which are reachable only by foot or has been blocked by landslides so getting the help in these areas poses a great challenge to international agencies.

Challenges

Nepal is a relatively poor country in Asia. Much of Nepal’s economy relies greatly on its tourism. It has a rich scenery and cultural heritage but has limited resources. It has also been plagued with political and economic instability for the last number of years. The challenge therefore is how Nepal can rebuild itself as a nation and rise after this disaster. 

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