7.3 AFTERSHOCK AND OTHER TREMORS IN NEPAL ON MAY 12

According to the India Meteorological Department, Nepal suffered nineteen tremors so far today, including the major one of magnitude 7.3. These are:

(Nepal is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of UTC.)

(Aftershocks on local time in Nepal – each with depth of 10 Kms – unless otherwise mentioned)

1. At 12:50:19 PM – 7.3

2. At 1:19:23 PM – 5.3

3. At 1:21:54 PM – 6.2

4. At 1:51:06 PM – 5.0

5. At 1:58:55 PM – 4.8

6. At 2:06:11 PM – 5.0

7. At 2:19:23 PM – 4.2

8. At 2:44:40 PM – 4.0

9. At 3:49:05 PM – 3.3

10. At 4:20:39 PM – 4.0

11. At 4:26:31 PM – 3.9

12. At 4:51:34 PM – 3.6

13. At 5:06:31 PM – 3.7

14. At 5:43:12 PM – 3.7

15. At 6:13:23 PM – 3.9

16. At 7:28:17 PM – 3.6

17. At 9:13:20 PM – 3.7 (15 Kms deep)

18. At 10:17:32 PM – 3.2 (18 Kms deep)

19. At 10:40:23 PM – 3.5

So far, the US Geological Survey is showing 12 aftershocks:
(Magnitude 2.5+ Earthquakes – UTC time)

4.4 – 22km SSW of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 13:43:17 – 10.0 km deep

4.3 – 30km NNW of Ramechhap, Nepal
2015-05-12 -12:28:22 – 10.0 km deep

4.2 – 21km NW of Ramechhap, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 11:58:09 – 10.0 km deep

4.2 – 33km SSE of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12- 11:21:30 – 10.0 km deep

4.5 – 23km SE of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12- 10:35:40 – 10.0 km deep

4.3 – 21km SE of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 10:15:06 – 10.0 km deep

5.2 – 28km SSE of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 08:21:10 – 15.0 km deep

5.1 – 19km SW of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 08:13:54 – 15.0 km deep

5.0 – 34km S of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 08:06:07 – 15.0 km deep

6.3 – 33km NNE of Ramechhap, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 07:36:53 – 15.0 km deep

5.6 – 25km SE of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 07:17:20 – 10.0 km deep

7.3 – 18km SE of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 07:05:19 – 15.0 km deep

In addition, the USGS is also showing two tremors in Afghanistan and one in China, in line with the news reports of tremors in China and Afghanistan.

4.6 – 7km SSE of Yangi Qal`ah, Afghanistan
2015-05-12 – 09:15:30 – 10.0 km deep

5.4 – 36km SSW of Zuobude, China
2015-05-12 – 07:34:22 – 15.0 km deep

4.7 – 6km ESE of Yangi Qal`ah, Afghanistan
2015-05-12 – 06:10:58 – 9.8 km deep

Two tremors that the USGS classifies as significant are in Nepal.

6.3 – 33km NNE of Ramechhap, Nepal
2015-05-12 07:36:53 – 15.0 km deep

7.3 – 18km SE of Kodari, Nepal
2015-05-12 – 07:05:19 – 15.0 km deep

Here, the IMD and the USGS are on the same page on intensity of the aftershocks/earthquakes and but they differ on their depths. The IMD says every tremor of the day in Nepal had a depth of 10 Kms whereas the USGS data varies on the same – 10 Kms for some, 15 for some. And most significantly, it differs in case of the strongest tremor of the day, i.e., the one having intensity of 7.3.

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

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/

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/