May 12, 2015

Since its unification, Nepal has always been in a financial struggle and remained as one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking 145th of 187 countries on the Human Development Index of 2014. The freshly created federation of Nepal, situated mostly on the Himalayas, has never been hit by a natural disaster as grave as the one it suffered on April 25, 2015. A massive earthquake caused an existential crisis in the impoverished nation and, a few weeks later, yet another quake stamped the country.

On April 25, a massive earthquake with its epicentre in Lamjung, lasting around 20 seconds, reached the magnitude of 7.8, hitting largely Nepal and neighbouring countries. The earthquake destroyed the capital Kathmandu, and the aftershocks continued throughout Nepal, with one reaching the magnitude of 6.7 on April 26. The death toll was so high that the government of Nepal requested help form other countries to recover bodies from the ruins. Many countries around the globe sent their rescue teams to the help of Nepalese people. The first one to arrive was a team from China, which faced large areas of debris in Kathmandu. The old buildings in the capital were collapsing like house of cards, which prevented rescuers from using machines and slowed down rescuing efforts, as they had to depend on manual power.

The earthquake killed over eight thousand people in Nepal, including nineteen mountain climbers. More than 450.000 people are missing and approximately 200.000 have been injured. Also seventy-eight people in India, twenty-five in China, and four people in Bangladesh had lost their lives due to the earthquake, which is the worst disaster of 2015.

Most of the survivors are now homeless and live in tents throughout Nepal, some of whom decided to go back to their villages looking for a safer place to inhabit. The situation in Nepal is quite grim: injured people are awaiting treatment in makeshift field hospitals, people have very little to eat, and the nation largely depends on the aid provided by the government and charities. Because Nepal, already impoverished nation, could not deal with the earthquake alone, foreign countries donated money, medicine, and necessary supplements to relieve the nation. The aid is short of meeting what Nepal needs, as most survivors have no shelter and the government cannot provide help for the injured.

Nepal is a mountainous country, and some villages cannot easily be reached even in the normal times. The geography of the country makes it very difficult for volunteers to provide help to some heavily affected regions. A humanitarian crisis is happening in Nepal, as the small food rations push families with many children to face difficult decisions.

Nepal suffered from the disaster so gravely because of the poorly constructed buildings which could not resist the strong waves of an earthquake. Poverty of the nation did not only increase the death toll, but also incapacitated the government to cope with the aftermath of the disaster. The current condition of the victims in Nepal is not promising. The rebuilding of the whole country will take decades and will require the expenditure of great amounts of funds that Nepal does not have. Many of country’s well-known landmarks, which attract tourists from all over the world, are destroyed. Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, and Bhimsen Tower are in ruins. However, surprisingly, Pashuptinath Temple survived the quake. Despite the difficult times, the temple started its service a few days after the disaster, giving much needed spiritual support for the ones in need.

Country, ravaged by the earthquake, was still in ruins, and Nepalese authorities were engaging eager scouts and volunteers to recover bodies from the rubbles. On May 12, with the magnitude of 7.3, this poor nation, once again, was hit by an earthquake, which sent the country deeper into crises. Death toll in Nepal was declared as fifty people, and over a thousand were heavily injured. Also in the neighbouring India seventeen people have lost their lives. It is also announced that death toll may rise, as many survivors were salvaging their belongings from precarious houses across Nepal. The total death toll is estimated to go beyond ten thousand people. And rescuers, who had a very limited access to the people trapped between the piles of walls after the first quake, are facing a greater challenge now. They are also exposed to great dangers, as they sometimes become trapped in ruins while trying to rescue a victim. The worry haunts the Nepalese that earth may rattle yet again.


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