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Earthquake exodus

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
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Thousands of people are leaving Kathmandu Valley in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that struck central Nepal on Saturday.

Apart from the damage caused by Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a series of aftershocks: fear of a disease outbreak is also driving thousands of people out of the devastated valley.

In Kalanki, hundreds of people, carrying bags stuffed with clothes, are seen waiting for buses to reach their homes. They are getting on any vehicles they can find, paying double the actual price.

Sita Pokhrel, 35, was waiting for a bus to reach Trishuli of Nuwakot district on Tuesday, carrying a newborn baby on her back. “I am ready to pay more but there is no bus to go home,” she said.

By 11 o’clock Tuesday, Sita had already spent two hours but she was still struggling to catch a ride. “A couple of micro buses left for Trishuli,” she said. “But I could not get on because they were overcrowded.”

Many transport entrepreneurs have not resumed their services, making it easy for a few others to fleece the panicked people. Kalanki area looked chaotic with people struggling to get on any vehicle they would get on.

Dhiraj Aryal, a teacher working in Kirtipur, also left Kathmandu on Tuesday. He said, “More than fear of aftershocks, it is the fear of outbreak that I am worried about.”

According to Baburam Marasini, Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD), no outbreak has been reported so far in the valley but its possibility cannot be ruled out.

“Water-borne disease could spread in situations like this,” he said. “So, I would request everyone to drink safe water. If there is no safe water, boiling water before drinking is advisable.”

The death toll from the earthquake has reached 4,347 by Tuesday morning. Authorities say the death toll could go up as rescue workers continue to dig out bodies from under the debris of collapsed houses.

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