International

Quake-hit families fend for themselves

Families have their dinner in front of a makeshiftshelter in Kathmandu on Sunday.  

Barely any sign of an organised relief effort was visible outside Kathmandu on Sunday, as aid agencies struggled to take relief supplies to a country stricken by its worst earthquake in eight decades.

In the lush Dhading farming district, 80 km outside the national capital, people camped in the open, the hospital was overflowing, the power was off and shops were closed. Rocks were strewn across the lightly travelled single road running west from the capital.

“Many people have lost their homes. Many people have died,” said English teacher Chandra Lama, whose home village lies a two-hour drive further west. Lama was hunting for rice and pulses to feed his family.

“We are waiting to see what the government will do.”

More than 1,100 people — or half of the total confirmed dead in Nepal — were in the Kathmandu Valley.

Indian effort

Indian military helicopters airlifted some injured to local hospitals but officials said their operations had been hampered by rain, cloud cover and repeated aftershocks. With thousands sleeping in the open with no power or water and downpours forecast, fears mounted of a humanitarian disaster.

Across the country, hundreds of villages have been left to fend for themselves.

“We are overwhelmed with rescue and assistance request from all across the country,” said Deepak Panda, a member of the country's disaster management.

Charity CARE International said that the death toll could run into the thousands.

“Almost everyone has slept outside and they are creating temporary shelters with what they have,” said CARE’s emergency response coordinator in Kathmandu, Santosh Sharma. Aid agencies held a first meeting with the Nepalese government on Sunday to coordinate the relief effort.

Charity Medecins sans Frontieres was struggling to get relief supplies including thousands of blankets and shelter in from Bihar because landslides had made roads difficult to navigate.

At the Dhading district hospital, patients were crammed in three to a bed and some being treated in the open. Basudev Ghimire, head of the local rescue unit, said that more than 130 people had been killed in the district but the number of injured ran into the thousands.

The Indian military, he said, had brought more than 100 people by helicopter to the district hospital or to Kathmandu.

Meanwhile, people prepared for another cold night outside.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 7:22:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/quakehit-families-fend-for-themselves/article7144287.ece

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