Nepal is suddenly at the center of world attention, thanks to an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 that ripped apart this small kingdom; inside out! Its ripple effect has been felt by India and China. While thousands still lie dead and injured under an unending pile of rubble, rescue operations are yet to reach many of the affected villages and towns. Overall, it is believed that over a million people have been thrown out of their normal lives. Only time will reveal how many of them would actually survive!
This disastrous demon had its epicenter about 50 miles from its capital, Kathmandu. It occurred during the early hours of Saturday, 25th April 2015; and was accompanied by several of its devastating friends – landslides, avalanches, and disturbing aftershocks.
Considered the most devastating earthquake, it is believed to be the result of a domino effect from huge tremors that occurred about 700 years ago. It is the second of the duo tremors that occurred as a result of this effect. The first being the one that occurred in 1934, which resulted in a casualty of more than 17,000 and flattened one fourth of the capital city!
Although this calamity has resulted in huge loss; it was not a totally unexpected one! Geologists from France had discovered the possibility of such an occurrence just a few weeks before and submitted their reports to the Geological Society of Nepal. They had almost accurately predicted the location of the earthquake; they could not have possibly guessed the timing though!
If you still cannot understand the impact of the earthquake, here’s an example – imagine what 20 powerful hydrogen bombs could do, especially if each was more powerful than the one that razed Hiroshima. Forget poor Kathmandu valley, no city or country on Earth could never survive that!
Geographically, this earthquake would leave a huge after taste on Nepal. According to geologists, Kathmandu has been relocated by at least 10 feet towards the south. Seismic data also reveals that the south of the city has risen by around half meter, while the north has dropped by about the same measure.
With most of its cities, towns, and villages completely annihilated, Nepal would need all the assistance in the world to reconstruct itself and get back to normalcy. According to experts that would mean an investment of about a little over $5 billion, which is about 20 percent of the nation’s GDP.
The earthquake and the subsequent avalanches and tremors are just the beginning of a long journey towards survival. Stranded people, the injured half-buried in rubble, rotting corpses of men and animals, the inability of the rescuers to reach out, lack of food and drinking water, a dust-filled atmosphere, and the damage to basic amenities are already beginning to tell. As the fear of epidemics looms large, camps are already overflowing!
Accessibility, or the lack of it, is the greatest hindrance for dispersing aid to all the affected areas. With phone and electrical lines down, and helicopters lacking landing space an accurate estimation of death tolls and losses are impossible. Still the government has made an official statement that puts the toll over 4,000 within three days of the tragedy. It wouldn’t be surprising if the toll crosses double that number!
Among the rubbles lay some of Kathmandu’s greatly valued possessions – the Durbar squares of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan; the Buddhist Stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath; the Hindu temple complexes of Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan. Two places that have been spared great damage are the Pashupatinath temple and Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace.
Kathmandu has always been related to the Himalayas and Mount Everest. Many ardent mountaineers have been rattled by the earthquake and the avalanche it triggered. While rescue operations continue, the toll has already risen to 19, including several foreign nationals and Sherpas.