ADDING MORE TO TRAUMA – STRONG TREMOR AND AFTERSHOCKS IN NEPAL

Nepal was still reeling under the aftermath of April 25 earthquake and its continued aftershocks when a strong tremor measuring 7.3, according to the India Meteorological Department and US Geological Department, again hit the Himalayan nation. First assessment by the USGS found it to be 7.1 in magnitude that was later revised.

It was earlier reported as an earthquake but the geological experts later on said that it was an aftershock of April 25 earthquake and not a fresh one. Even if it was an aftershock, it was, so far, the most damaging and the strongest one after the earthquake of April 25.

So, Nepal has felt over 16 tremors today if we go by the IMD and 12 if we go figures available with the USGS. According to the USGS, two were in Afghanistan and one in China.

The strongest one, of 7.3, was near Kodari. It was 15 Kms deep, as the USGS finds it. (The Indian Meteorological Organization’s report says it was 10 Kms deep). The quake epicentre was near Mount Everest base camp near Nepal-China border.

Based on the reports so far, the epicentre was 83 Kms from Kathmandu, 68 Kms from Namche Bazaar and 22 Kms from Zham in China’s Tibet.

Though not high on death-toll so far, the quake epicentre has suffered extensive damage in the earthquake. Physical structures are flattened out and there is wide-scale destruction.

Yes it is not going to be as damaging as the one on April 25, strongest one in Nepal in 81 years after 1934, but it is sure to worsen the situation there.

Though expected to be much larger, the death toll from the April 25 quake still hovers around 8100 and the injured count is around 18000. Among other things, it also tells us about slow pace of reconnaissance and rehabilitation.

In today’s earthquake, so far, Nepal has reported 42 deaths and around 1100 injured.

More rubble is added by falling buildings. Aid teams are slowly reaching the remote parts. April 25 earthquake impeded flow of man, machine and materials. Roads were gone in many areas. Many brides were badly damaged. Phone lines were not working. Nepal was working slowly, with help of different aid teams, from its own people and from the international community, to restore the order. But the tremor today would certainly affect things negatively.

Buildings, already damaged by April 25 earthquake have collapsed by May 12 earthquake. There are reports on this line from Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Patan, Bhaktapur and different areas of Nepal. Today’s earthquake is expected to add significantly to the 600,000 houses left uninhabitable and around 200,000 completely decimated.

Like April 25 earthquake, India has been affected by this earthquake as well, though to a smaller extent. So far, India has reported 17 deaths with 16 from Bihar (and the figure has remained static over some hours). Like the last time, Bihar has again suffered the maximum damage in India. Overall, the quake was felt in many parts of North and Eastern India including Delhi.

Schools are closed in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Bihar’s chief minister has said to arrange for the people who choose to stay outdoors.

A strong earthquake of this extent would further add to the trauma of the residents of Nepal. Most of the victims are still living in camps and their plans will see a further delay if they had, at all, made up their mind to go back to their homes.

The whole focus was bringing normalcy to Kathmandu and other quake affected areas but they are expected to run longer as refugee camps and ghost towns with the latest earthquake as the experts are predicting continued aftershocks.

People looking for what is left in their houses in April 25 earthquake, people returning to their houses somehow after necessary repair (or even if no repair was needed), people living in refugee camps, people recovering in make-shift and other hospitals, people waiting for relief to reach them, and people engaged in relief operations – they all are possible victims of today’s strong tremors.

Strong tremor today has added to the trauma of the earthquake victims. Panic was clearly visible on Nepal’s streets. Aid workers and people of different remote areas are further isolated. The 7.3 tremor today jammed traffic, choked communication lines and brought down the power lines.

Kathamandu’s Tibhuvan International Airport, Nepal’s only international airport, that was closed due to April 25 earthquake and had to be closed again as its main runway had suffered cracks with landing of larger jetliners while the airport was equipped with medium sized jets only, was temporarily closed again today.

India sent an MI-17 helicopter in the quake aftermath today to carry out assessment work to offer help. India established its quake-helplines and assured Nepal any help needed.

Though Nepal has tried to iron out its bureaucratic, administrative and government lapses in the aftermath, the Nepali government is accused by its people of delay in rescue, relief and reconnaissance operations. When the April 25 quake happened, Nepal took some days to lift taxes on the aid material. It had to close its Tribhuvan airport as it could not handle the aid material. It stopped many large aircrafts with air material to land. Britain is still negotiating with Nepal to land its military helicopters there to assist the relief operations.

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

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