Nepal earthquake: No time to waste

Photo courtesy of Skanda Gautam
Photo courtesy of Skanda Gautam

It has been a day since the devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing nearly 2000 people, in an area about 80km from Kathmandu and Pokhara.

This is the largest earthquake the country has felt in 80 years, so despite Nepal being in an earthquake-prone area, this is much bigger than people are used to experiencing.

Many buildings have collapsed and the people are worried whether the buildings left standing are able to withstand aftershocks of over 7.0 magnitude.

Aftershocks

As I travel from my home in Delhi, India to Nepal, fresh aftershocks were recorded in Nepal in other neighbouring countries, demonstrating the impact of this disaster across borders.

My plane was due to depart this afternoon, but I remained firmly strapped in my seat for three hours as we waited to learn whether we can be processed at immigration to do the work we came to do.

Fear

Over the past 24 hours, colleagues I’ve been in touch with have recounted stories of intense earthquakes for several minutes, sleeping in open areas for fear of the integrity of their homes, no electricity and patchy mobile coverage.

Many of them are trying to keep their families alive and to make sense of what has happened. Yet they have also rallied and are continuing to work in order to help those who have not been as fortunate as they are.

Sleeping outdoors can be cold in the mountainous terrain at this time of the year, and many are without tarpaulins and blankets as the rainfall seems imminent.

Supplies running out

In Kathmandu Valley, hospitals are overcrowded and we’ve heard reports of hospitals running out of room for storing dead bodies and also running short of emergency supplies.

Medical staff are now treating people in the streets.

There are also reports that the hospital emergency stocks are being used up.

Our response

We’re expecting that many children and families will need shelter, health services, psychosocial support, food, water and hygiene items.

Save the Children is now looking to mobilise stocks of relief items within the country and across the region. However, transportation may be challenging given the road conditions and mountainous terrain and it could take days to reach some of the more rural and remote areas amid continued threats of aftershocks

Attempting to enter the disaster zone has been more trying than expected. Colleagues from around the region and the world over will be looking to join me in the coming days, to support the worst-affected population in this catastrophic disaster.

Please help our response to the needs of children and families in Nepal:

Donate now to our Nepal Earthquake Appeal

Save the Children has been working in Nepal since 1976 – we focus on education, especially early childhood development and primary education, as well as basic health, including maternal child health and HIV and AIDS prevention and care. We work in 63 out of the 75 districts of Nepal.

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