By: Maria Gerbic
An earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, April 25, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale and killing 4,000. The earthquake is the country’s worst natural disaster in more than 80 years. The damage spread across the country, with most of it centering around the capital city of Kathmandu, where about 3 million people reside. The country is now the target of massive relief efforts by the US, China, India, and the UK, among other nations. Emergency responders are racing against time to find survivors and save those who are trapped by avalanches on Mount Everest.
Parbati Dhakal, a Saurpani villager who lives in an ethnic Gurkha town at the epicenter of the earthquake, said, “We have no shelter, no food and all the bodies are scattered around” (Fuller). Villages such as this one are in distress because they are surrounded by landslides that block off aid. These isolated villages make it difficult for the the armed forces to identify the number of casualties and who is in need of the most help, and the aftershocks that occurred through Monday contributed to the chaos. According to the National Emergency Operation Centre, more than 6,500 have been injured, including three Americans and Tibetan monks who sought refuge in Nepal.
Mount Everest was also hit by Saturday’s disaster, and at least 18 climbers were killed by avalanches. Several survivors described the harrowing experience to the New York Times. Rob Besecker, a Chicagoan who has severe health problems, made the journey to climb Mount Everest in order to advocate that illnesses shouldn’t rule people’s lives. He said, “Emotionally, I felt like this trip was so much bigger than the actual physical journey.”
Rescue efforts are still underway in order to evacuate trapped civilians from their flattened homes. Water is needed desperately and many are worrying about the risk for disease. As the death toll rises, members of the Pashupatinath temple are performing cremations quick in order to reduce health hazards. Foreign aid and domestic rescue efforts are coming together to help Nepal during this desperate time.