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EARTHQUAKE IN NEPAL

A Report by Bishop Paul Simick, Vicar Apostolate of Nepal

A massive earthquake of 7.9 Richter scale struck the Himalayan Nation of Nepal on 25th April at 11.55 a.m. The epicenter near the western Region of Gorkha District which is approximately 80 kilometer from the Capital City, Kathmandu. The tremor was so strong that the neighboring countries like Tibet, North India, Bhutan and Bangladesh also felt the shake and there have been a few damages and loss of human lives. But the major consequence was here in Nepal where 39 districts out of 75 districts have been seriously affected.

At the time of writing this report, more than 5000 people dead. More than 7,000 injured. Eight million affected across the Nation. The death toll might rise to much higher number as the dead bodies are continually being excavated from the debris. More over because of the underdeveloped communication system and lack of proper government coordination there is a possibilities that many casualties may not be reported. What was most horrifying and shocking was that after 25 hours another tremor of 6.7 Richter scale shook the country again. There have been more than 104 seismic activities having 4 magnitude [aftershock] which is absolutely terrifying.

To reach more and more people we need help and funds and we count on those who like us here probably feel an urge to try and help in some way.

Although the Government and Various NGOs and INGOs have intensified the rescue efforts in and around Kathmandu and all over the Nation, lack of proper equipment and accessibility to the most remotest village and the bad weather has made the rescue operations difficult and slow. It is believed that hundreds of people are still trapped inside the debris of the collapsed buildings in the Capital where the population is heavy and the destruction is massive. Kathmandu is a city of old Hindu Temples and many Ancient historical building. Some of them are unfortunately reduced to the ground in seconds.

Nepal attracts thousands of foreign tourists and mountaineers every year simply because we have the highest and other higher Mountains of world. This period is one of the seasons of the year when thousands of Tourists and Mountaineers climb the mountains. Unfortunately, the massive earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest that partially buried the foreign mountaineers and porters at the Base Camp who were preparing to make their summit attempts. The latest report says that at least 18 climbers died and 61 were injured.

The hospitals in the Capital City are overcrowded with seriously injured people. The Medical personnel were working round the clock. The Government has announced free medical treatment to the victims. The people are still very much in shock and frightened and have temporally settled on the streets, open Ground and open fields with tarpaulin tents. The bad weather and on and off rain making their stay difficult and wet. But they prefer to face some discomforts rather than fray the quake.

The National Highways connecting to other parts of the country from the Capital City has been blocked due to the landslides caused by the earthquake further obstructing rescue teams taking the mountain trails to reach to the most needed.

Many Foreign Nations are coming in with the relief materials and rescue personnel and medical doctors. It is believed that even though the relief materials have been coming in it is not reaching to victims immediately because of the lack of proper coordination. Since the Government is delaying in reaching the spots, local communities and volunteers have started organizing and initiating the rescue operation.

Catholic Church of Nepal through Nepal Caritas with the help of Caritas Internationalise, Caritas from Various Countries and CRS (Catholic Relief Service) has already started the relief work in some far off district of the country. Apart from Caritas Nepal, Nepal Jesuit and Don Bosco Salesian Society of Nepal also responded quickly to the tragedy by visiting the villages with the relief materials containing of tarpaulin sheets and food material. In a few days, the Catholic Church of Nepal hopes to reach out some of the more difficult places where until now no relief work has taken place. To reach more and more people we need help and funds and we count on those who like us here probably feel an urge to try and help in some way.

We are now concerned about the portable water and clean food supply. If people do not get the proper food and clean water, there might be outbreak of epidemic which would be another tragedy. 

Shops, Banks, Business, Patrol Pumps and Government Offices remained close for the fifth day today. People are badly in need of food and water. Prices of the food items has already high. The electricity and phones service in the Capital is partially restored after few days of total cut off. Fortunately Internet service in the Capital remained undisrupted that make quick communication possible aftermath of the Earthquake.

We are now concerned about the portable water and clean food supply. If people do not get the proper food and clean water, there might be outbreak of epidemic which would be another tragedy. 

Catholic Church of Nepal is fortunate not to have suffered loss of life or serious injury and too many major damages in all our Churches, Convents, Schools and Institutions. Many of our Schools and Churches’ compound have opened for the people for their shelter.

We need your prayerful support and if possible material assistance so that we can provide some relief to these unfortunate people.

Bishop Paul Simick

29 April 2015

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