— Well, 10 days on, and Nepal has failed to reach all affected areas. Death toll is around 7500. The injured count is reaching around 15000. In a village, Nepali police and volunteers found bodies of around 100 trekkers and villagers and they were looking for more. And there are many more villages like this where help is reaching slowly. According to a report in Reuters – “The bodies were recovered on Saturday and Sunday at the Langtang village, 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of Kathmandu, which is on a trekking route popular with Westerners. The entire village, which includes 55 guesthouses for trekkers, was wiped out by the avalanche, officials said.” So, we got the news on Monday of something that happened on Saturday and Sunday. We can expect the difficulties in reaching out the people and villages there. Local volunteers and police personnel are digging through six-feet (deep) snow with shovels looking for more bodies.”
— The extent of damage remains vague, based on the assessment so far. It will take a long time as some 14 cities are badly affected from April 25 earthquake. The United Nations says of 11 cities with overall projection of 39 cities and 8 million people. While assessing the scale of destruction, Nepal will simultaneously have to engage in rehabilitation and reconstruction work.
— Different estimates vary from US$ 2 billion to US$ 10 billion but real extent of damage could come out to be even higher, straining Nepal’s economy that is just around US$ 20 billion. The Nepali government has reassessed its extent of damage, from US$ 2 billion to US$ 10 billion, but it is still a conservative one.
— Some impendent experts accuse Nepal government of ignorance. According to them, the final death-toll could be around 30,000. A Swiss expert even projects it to be around 100,000. Whatever be the final figures, they are likely, logically likely, to be much higher than the figures quoted by the ministers and spokespersons of Nepal.
— 34 countries that were involved in search, rescue and relief operations in Nepal have been asked to leave. Of the 75 teams, half have left Nepal by this evening. Overall, over 4000 aid workers were engaged in Nepal with India having the largest contingent. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, 962 aid workers were sent by India followed by China’s 370 and Israel’s 286. The same report says of around 700 foreign medical workers in Nepal.
— India has led by setting example. There was round the clock overage of Nepal’s earthquake and Indian efforts in the aftermath. Of all the expert personnel there, National Disaster Response Force had the largest group. Naturally, Indian media highlighted Indian efforts there. Some saw it as ‘glorification’ of a crisis. So, at a time, when rehabilitation and reconstruction should be on the mind, Nepal has asked all the countries involved in rescue efforts to leave Nepal.
— This order comes by a government that had expressed its inability on the very day of the disaster that it would not be able to meet the needs of the aftermath of this devastating earthquake, the biggest one in 81 years, after the Nepal-Bihar earthquake of 1934.
— After 10 days, there are no hopes of finding survivors anymore. Yes, some miracles, like have been happening, my happen, but overall, it’s about reconstructing the affected regions now.
— Nepal”s weak political system that is learning to stand on its own is preparing for the ‘relief stage’ now, the next phase. They have to rehabilitate millions, some 8 million out Nepal’s total population of 28 million, and it is to be done on war-scale. Now, what commitment they shows only time can tell.
— Monsoon is approaching. Regular rains are few weeks away. Nepal have to remove tons of rubble, form its urban areas and its towns and villages. Machinery and equipments are needed and Nepal has appealed for the same and India is sending its team.
— Nepal will be tasted here. It has to start the rebuilding process amid allegations of corruption, partiality and insensitivity in relief distribution. Nepal has appealed for relief teams and foreign workers engaged in relief operations can continue to stay. India is sending an engineering team with equipments to clear the rubble. Hope ‘Nepal asking the rescue teams to leave its soil’ was in good faith and the help will continue.
— Nepal has said most of the aid promised by the world community, by different countries and aid organizations, is yet to reach the relief fund of Nepal’s prime minister. Nepal needs relief material needed for everyday life – food, water, shelter, medicine, finances – for rehabilitation and reconstruction work. And Nepal needs them in loads as said by Nepal’s Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey – “We need huge (amounts of) relief material to address the woes of thousands, including funds for rebuilding, reconstruction and relocation of thousands of structures and displaced people.” (According to a report in the Hindustan Times)
— Today is Buddha Purnima and Nepal figured in the speech by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to a report on India Today’s website, he said – “Today is a special day, yet we feel a bit burdened. That is because Nepal, a land we all love, is facing difficulty. Nepal is going through a very difficult time right now. Buddha taught us compassion. We should share the pain and wipe the tears of people of Nepal. The birthplace of Lord Buddha, our beloved Nepal is going through a massive crisis. It is difficult to imagine how long and arduous this journey will be. We should share the pain of people of Nepal. Let us pray to Lord Buddha that they get new strength.”
— A peace prayer was also organized in Kathmandu, in Swyambunath temple. Some of the Buddhist stupas surrounding the 5th Century temple are damaged in the earthquake. People gathered there to pray for Nepal and pray for the humanity that is having difficult time there.
— According to a report in Reuters, Mount Everest remains opened for scaling the world’s highest peak in spite of the massive earthquake on April 25. The report said – “Mount Everest remains open to climbers, a senior official at Nepal’s tourism department said on Monday, despite avalanches after last month’s devastating earthquake destroyed much of the established route to the summit of the world’s highest peak.”
— But the Sherpas, on whom the responsibility lies, have refused to rebuild the route. According to a report in the Associated Press, they don’t think there is enough time left to scale the peak now. The report says – “Sherpas in Nepal have refused to rebuild a climbing route on Mount Everest that was destroyed by an earthquake-triggered avalanche more than one week ago, a decision which will likely end this year’s climbing season.”
— That brings an effective end to climbing season this year, which is till May. Though the Nepal government has said it will clear the southern route for climbers by the next week, it is clear that Sherpas are not buying it. Last year also, Nepal had to close the climbing season early due to an avalanche that had killed 16 Sherpas. China has already blocked the northern route from Tibet. So far, around 20 bodies have been rescued from the Everest base camp area and scores are still missing.
— According to a report in The Guardian, 3/4th of the buildings in Kathmandu are unsafe. The report says – “Assessments of 2,500 buildings carried out by more than 1,000 local engineers during the last four days have revealed that a fifth are no longer habitable and three-quarters need repairs before they can be considered safe.”
— According to the same report, officials figures say, so far, 153,000 buildings are devastated and 170,000 have suffered severe damage. And the surveys have not yet reached the rural areas.
— Nepal continues to face aftershocks. People still prefer living outdoor than going back to their homes, if they are at all habitable. And it goes with the line that Kathmandu look like a refugee camp bustling with people, the victims and aid workers and the whole of the affected region looks like having ghost towns.
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON MAY 3
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/