NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 28

— Death toll in Nepal has crossed the 5000 mark. Injured count over 10,000. The final figure, as expected, is to be in many thousands – of dead – of injured.

— India has reported 72 deaths, China has 25.

— Most affected districts in Nepal – Kathmandu, Pokhara, Lalitpur (Patan), Lamjung, Gorkha, Sindhupalchok, Bhaktapur, Rasuwa, Dhading, Langtang, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Kavre, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Parsa, Bara, Saptari, Dhanusha.

— Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur have lost many temples and heritage sites. Kathmandu’s Darbar Square and Gorkha’s Gorkha Durbar have been hit badly.

— Millions were displaced and left homeless. Their rehabilitation is a priority but public frustration is growing. Relief is not reaching to them as expected.

— Rescue and relief efforts are proving difficult to carry out, especially in remote towns and villages. Many of them are still out of reach. Teams are facing problems of logistics with cracked roads and dysfunctional power and communication lines.

— Nepal’s small and chaotic airport is proving to be a problem. It is inundated with people, and with relief material and is facing logistical problems in managing them. People are rushing to go out of Nepal while support from the world community has created a sort of mismanagement at the airport.

— Nepal, due to its goodwill, is getting overwhelming response from the world community. India, Nepal’s neighbour, the only country with direct road access to the country, is playing the role of big brother with its ‘Operation Maitri’, helping Nepal in every respect. It is helping in rescue, relief and reconnaissance efforts in Kathmandu, in Everest base camp area and in other quake affected regions. It is expected to play a big role in rehabilitation and reconstruction work. It is airlifting people and trying to open up more roads to the country to carry more people to this side of India-Nepal border and heavy equipments needed to that side of the border. Indian Army has established a camp in Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest district, to coordinate the operations. The international community, including China, Pakistan, US, UK, Australia, Canada, Israel, etc., and different aid agencies including the UN are there with helping hands.

— Stormy weather with warnings of heavy to very heavy rains are affecting rescue and relief work. Whenever rains happen, efforts to reach and help people across the affected region come to a virtual standstill.

— Electricity was restored in some parts of Kathmandu with help of India.

— Though there was no major earthquake today, Nepal continue to experience aftershocks.

— People continue to stay in the open – in Kathmandu and across Nepal. Kathmandu looks like a refugee camps with many tents, open hospitals and relief centres.

— According to the UN estimates, some 8 million are affected and many of Nepal’s cities look like ghost towns. It is revised and up from an earlier UN estimate of 6.6 million quake-affected people. According to the revised estimates, 39 of 75 Nepal districts are earthquake affected. 11 of these are severely damaged.

— Around 20 bodies are recovered from Mount Everest base camps. Some reports say 18. The final figure is yet not available. Scores are still missing. Some reports say them to be around 200, some 400. Dozens are saved from the way up and the area surrounding Everest base camps. The way up from Tibet side, in China, the northern side, is closed. The southern side, from Nepal, the popular one, is devastated. Everest climbing season this spring is virtually over with it.

— Nepal’s deputy PM said the rescue efforts were over and it was the time for rehabilitation work even if the reconnaissance work was not yet complete.

— Also, petty politics, though to a smaller extent, is at play. Nepal has rejected Taiwanese offer of help. There are reports of China expressing displeasure on India, choppers flying near China’s border. Also, there are reports of skirmishes between Indian R&R teams and Nepal’s defence forces.

— Different estimates say different things and will continue to say so. The impact of this earthquake on Nepal’s economy is severe. Nepal and global agencies are already assessing the damage. If we believe the US Geological Survey estimates, the damage could be to the extent of around $US 10 billion. IHS Global, a US based firm, estimates Nepal needs $US 5 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction works.

— Remittances form around 30% of the GDP while tourism’s share is 8%. This 38% also helps Nepal to work on its unemployment problem, that is as huge as 50% according to some estimates. In the aftermath of Nepal quake, the sectors are going to be hit badly, affecting thus Nepal’s economy badly.

Related post:
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 27
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/nepal-earthquake-updates-so-far-on-april-27/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL’S ECONOMY AFTER EARTHQUAKE

Different estimates put a strain of up to $10 billion on Nepal’s economy. The US Geological Survey put it around $20 billion according to the reports available. A US based consultancy firm, IHS Global, has come to the conclusion after its assessments that Nepal needs $5 billion over five years for quake related reconstruction.

The United Nations estimates that the quake has affected 40% of Nepal. In revised estimates, the UN estimates that the quake has affected some 8 million Nepali residents, up from its earlier estimate of 6.6 million.

According to the UN estimates, 11 districts are severally devastated while in overall, 39 of the 75 districts of Nepal are affected by this earthquake.

Nepal is an impoverished, landlocked nation of over 28 million (27.8 million to be exact), it is among the poorest in the world. Its global fame is due to Mount Everest, Earth’s highest peak. Ascending the mountains to reach Mount Everest and Himalayan trekking contribute to the economy in a major way. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism related activaties contribute around 8% of Nepal’s GDP.

Nepal is a low income economy with its GDP around $19 billion. Most of the population, over 70%, is engaged in agriculture. But its contribution to the GDP is around 33.7%. So, around 70% of the population is engaged in an activity that contributes just 34% of the GDP.

Services sector, of which tourism is part, contributes around 52% to Nepal’s economy, the largest chunk. Remittances are an important part of it as Nepal cannot employ most of its employment-age population, some estimates put the figure around 50%. In 2013, remittances constituted around 29% of the GDP. Hotels, real estate and construction are important parts of services-based industries.

As expected, manufacturing forms the lowest chunk. It contributes just 14% to the GDP.

Nepal is said to be a smuggling haven for India and many international brands are routinely smuggled into India via Nepal. India is also its biggest economic partner, the country that borders Nepal on three sides – east, south and west. Around 55% of exports to Nepal is from India.

China that is competing with India for a strategic stake in the nation, comes at distant third with 4% of exports. The US accounts for 9% of exports.

While most of the Nepal is badly hit by the devastating earthquake, the tourism industry has started feeling the heat already. People and parties are cancelling their Nepal tours and plans to ascend Mount Everest. Even the Indian regions of the affected belt, Darjeeling, Sikkim and Northeast India, are affected in the wave. Tour operators say 90% bookings to Nepal and affected regions stand cancelled at this hour.

China has closed the way to Mount Everest from its side, though a less popular one, and there is no timeframe when it will be opened. Route through Nepal is universally accepted and a more popular one. The Everest base camps at around 5000 meters in Nepal are badly devastated in ensuing avalanches. Some 200 are still missing. When the quake-induced avalanche happened, many mountaineers are on their way up to Mount Everest and many were planning to do so. Eight of 10 world’s tallest mountains are in Nepal.

Nepal was already among the least developed countries in the world and was aiming for the tag of ‘developing country’ by 2022 but the poor nation with per capita GDP of around $700 according to the World Bank figures has been pushed back by at least a decade.

Staring before it is the mammoth work of reconstructing a massive earthquake hit economy.

And staring in the face is the task of making it earthquake resistant! After all, Nepal falls in an earthquake prone zone, on a fault-line of Indian and Eurasian plates, and when they begin rehabilitation and reconstruction work, it should be in the minds of the policymakers, unlike after the quake of 1934.

It may happen this time if they speak in urgent, uniformed voice.

1934 was a monarchy. 2015 is a democracy.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT

Though it was always vulnerable to earthquakes, Nepal didn’t face any massive one in 80 years, and the landlocked impoverished nation was not prepared for this one, a massive 7.8 earthquake.

The earthquake, a shallow one with depth of just 15 Kms, has affected around 8 million people of Nepal, the UN say in its revised estimates. According to some estimates, the shallow and strong quake has hit almost 40% of Nepal and is expected to cost the nation billions of US$ in reconstruction.

The whole of Himalayan range is considered unstable and Nepal lies there. Mount Everest is getting up every year, a centimetre each year. According to the geologists, Indian plate is sliding under Nepal.

The whole Kathmandu was almost flattened in 1934 earthquake. Nepal could have learnt lessons from it and designed buildings in a way to withstand earthquakes. But among the poorest nations of earth, Nepal could not do it.

Poor it was. It remained poor. And with a continued streak of Maoist insurgency that was taken into mainstream in last decade only. The result was – an unplanned growth. Nepal is basically about Kathmandu and Mount Everest – its best known locations. Then, there is tourism circuit of districts like Pokhara and Janakpur. All these are in a quake-sensitive reason.

Over the years, most of Kathmandu and the valley surrounding it have grown in an unorganized way. Most of the buildings do now follow quake-resistant building rules. Most heritage buildings needed retrofitting. Nepal had seven UN heritage sites before this earthquake. Four are completely destroyed in Saturday’s earthquake. Many localities, buildings, temples and structures are completely decimated.

Himalaya was formed when the Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate. And Himalaya is still rising up. The Indian plate is sliding under the Eurasian plate and whenever a collision happens, it releases enormous amount of energy. It happened in 1934. It happened on April 25. Killing over 10,000 then. Killing scores now and the complete assessment will take time.

Indian plate is sliding northwards at 5 centimetres per year. It is considered a fast enough pace in geological parlance.

The movement of tectonic plates below India and Nepal creates a fault-line that runs all along the Himalayan range – 1400 mile long. And Nepal is on this fault-line.

Enormous energy is released when the earth crust ruptures due to the stress between the plates and it is a continued process.

But we cannot predict its frequency. Some experts say now Nepal should be ready for a big earthquake every five-six decades. But even they are not sure.

After the earthquake, India has slid around 6-7 feet under Nepal, different scientific estimates say. That means over a thousand miles.

Understanding it is tectonic in nature – you want to understand it or you don’t want to. It all depends on people. For those who want to understand the science behind the Saturday’s earthquake, these are few links:

Scientific American – How The Deadly Nepal Earthquake Happened
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-deadly-nepal-earthquake-happened-graphic1/

Discovery News – The Science Behind The Nepal Earthquake
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PfTh1Pix8E

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/