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Second night in the open

Sunday, April 26th, 2015
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Rescue workers dig out more bodies from under the debris of the devastated Budget Hotel building in Thamel on Sunday. Photo by Om Astha Rai

Hundreds of thousands of people in Central Nepal prepared to spend the second night out in the open as serious aftershocks continued to rattle people and forcing them out of their homes.

In Kathmandu, open areas like Tundikhel, Khula Manch, Dasrath Stadium and Maitighar Mandala were packed with families afraid of going home. They used any open spaces available, including school playgrounds, courtyards and bahals of inner city areas. Some people even used traffic islands.

2People who had hoped that the aftershocks had begun to taper off were jolted once more on Sunday at 1PM with a 6.5 magnitude earthquake epicentred northeast of Kathmandu which shook places as far away as Patna in India and towns in Bangladesh. Some families who had ventured home decided to stay out one more night in tents.

In Makhan Tole behind the devastated World Heritage Site of Kathmandu Darbar Square, people scared by the aftershock wept as they found out that there was nowhere they could spend the night.

“In our locality, people are frightened as their houses are old and already weakened by yesterday’s earthquake,” said Sanu Maharjan, a volunteer mobilised by Makhan Youth Club, before rushing out to pull bodies from under the debris of a house that collapsed on Sunday’s quake.

3“More houses are collapsing because of the aftershocks, it is scary,” he said.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala returned to Kathmandu on Sunday from Jakarta where he had gone for a conference and immediately convened a Cabinet meeting which warned people not to follow rumours but to be prepared for aftershocks.

Sunday’s aftershock razed houses that were damaged on Saturday’s quake and even killed some people in districts surrounding Kathmandu. The official death toll is now nearing 2,000 and is expected to go higher as reports come in from outlying areas of Central Nepal.

At Kathmandu’s Bir Hospital the corridors are littered with unidentified bodies, and the police was handing over identified ones to next-of-kin.

4Hospital Director, Swoyam Prakash Pandit, said as of Sunday afternoon, 99 people, including one Chinese and two Indian, had died after being brought there. Some 450 more wounded people have been admitted, and Pandit expected more as people trapped under rubble are rescued.

Thousands of army, armed police and Nepali police personnel have been deployed to rescue earthquake victims. But they are incapable of removing debris in narrow alleys of Kathmandu.

On Sunday, near Asan chowk, a team of policemen was unable to remove debris because they had no digging equipment. “We know many are trapped inside but we don’t know how to pull them out,” said a police inspector. “It can be done only by our disaster rescue teams but they are too few to reach everywhere.”

In the Patan Darbar Square which has also been devastated by the earthquake, families sat calmly in shelters inside schools and open spaces. Community organizer, Dilendra Raj Shrestha told us there was no presence of government, not even officials from the municipality who had visited.

“We urgently need tents and medicines,” he said, recalling the hardships of Saturday night when about 400 people slept in the open and were drenched by a shower at 1AM. Fortunately the a400-year-old stone spout in the square outside provides water, and the community raises money to cook two meals a day.

He said: “Please tell the world. We need help.”

Om Astha Rai

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4 Responses to “Second night in the open”

  1. Changu Narayan on Says:

    Now is time to rescue, and provide help and affection to those in need. We love our Children Home in Kathmandu, and we will do our best.
    Each time i visit Nepal, i go to Changu Narayan, and now, i ask… tell us in due time what can be done? should we gather a team of experts, try to save what can be saved, all those amazing sculptures of deities, our common heritage…
    I am not a doctor, not an electrician, but IF some gather energy for Changu Narayan, tell us how we can help, later, when that horrible period will be over.
    Patrick Manac’h, France.

  2. Grimalzee on Says:

    It seems the city is in acute shortage of open spaces,not because we did.n have them. h some of them have been usurped by the statal or semi-statal institutions and public utilities concerns like schools, even politically connected ones.
    Even those left out of these clutches are turned into ugly looking putali bagaicha as parks, mostly caricatures. This has led to the acute shortage of parking spaces .Vehicles in every form and sizes are mainly the core areas of the valley.

    It is high time to give priority too the parking ares in the cities of the valley;reconvert some of them now. If we had enough of them,we could have earthhquake shelters at this junctture in every ward and communities.
    I appeal this day to our municipal authorities, planners, civil society stalwarts in our wards and the citizens at large to explore such places in their res pective wards to open upp shelter cum parking areas from now onwards.
    Let us have one or two in each wards such open places.
    For maityaining them,we can make them as eating places as Singapore used their car parks as fine eating parks,withgood proviision or keeping them clean and hiegenic places.
    We have them still plenty ,look for onnes at the river side if not inside the city oore,. They are not far away.

  3. Selected News Stories from Around the World* — Monday, April 27 | The BibleMesh Blog on Says:

    […] Hundreds of Thousands of Displaced Nepalese Sleep Outdoors in the Rain; Nation Calling to World for … (Nepal Times) […]

  4. Nadine on Says:

    I’m looking for informations about a family in Bhaktapur.
    Can you help me please.
    So anxious.

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