NEPAL UPDATE: Changes after second earthquake
Posted: on May 16, 2015
story and photos LuAnne Cadd
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The MAF Disaster Team on the ground in Nepal continues to be extremely busy with the co-ordination work of the helicopter response facility, especially since the second quake earlier this week. Many organisations are having to re-evaluate where they need to deploy staff and aid resources – both to areas hit hardest by the initial quake and the subsequent quakes this week.
In some villages, two-thirds of the houses had collapsed in the first earthquake on 25th April. After the second earthquake on 12th May, all remaining houses have been destroyed.
It is clear that there is a huge demand and need for our service which does not appear to diminish. The subsidised flights we are able to co-ordinate are providing a unique lifeline, especially for many smaller faith-based NGOs.
Horrific footage from the epicenter of the 2nd earthquake in Nepal.
Click image to watch the video.
MAF partners with NGO Acted
Less than 24 hours after the second strong earthquake rocked Nepal, MAF coordinated helicopter flights to the epicentre to assess the damange. The 7.3 quake caused panic among many Nepali people with the memory of the devastating 25th April earthquake still fresh from three weeks before.
The epicenter for the latest quake was east of Kathmandu this time in an area that was not listed as priority in the relief effort. For this reason, a French NGO, Acted, wanted to quickly check on the condition of the villages in that area to see if they needed immediate assistance.
What we saw was shocking. Nearly every home lay in a pile of rubble.
Even the few houses that were still standing obviously suffered serious damage – too damaged to live in, especially with the multiple aftershocks the country is still receiving.
The helicopter pilot searched for a place to land, finally choosing a narrow flat spot with drop-offs on both sides, and cracks in the earth running through several sections. It was empty of people, but a village lay a short distance away. Within minutes villagers came running. The two Acted staff, Elena Tifrea and Toma Dursima, gathered information from the people. Once they found someone who spoke English, they learned the hard news: in the village of 500 people and about 150 homes, the first earthquake destroyed two-thirds of the houses. The earthquake yesterday finished off the last 50. None were habitable.
No one had come to help. No tarps brought, no food.
They had some food left, noodles and biscuits only, they said. The water pipes had broken, latrines destroyed, everything gone.
One man kept saying, “We have nothing, nothing.” It was truly heartbreaking.
As we flew away, Elena and Toma began making plans to come back as soon as possible with tarps and food, not only for this village but also for others equally damaged near the epicenter.
Although it’s distressing to see such loss and devastation, organizations like Acted are able to get to these remote places with the help of MAF coordinating the subsidized helicopter flights.
Elena said, “Thank you for your support, MAF. We could not do it without you.”
MAF partners with Himalayan Life
Daniel Burgi has worked in Nepal for 18 years with Himalayan Life, a small faith-based NGO.
Last week, before MAF began coordinating the highly-subsidized flights for the earthquake relief in Nepal, Daniel and Dandul trekked for five days into a region northwest of Kathmandu where Dandul’s village is located deep in the mountains – the highest up and farthest away in an area called Sindhupalchok.
“It was an area hard hit but a little overlooked. For three days we didn’t see one single house that was standing,” Daniel described. “We were absolutely stunned by the devastation. I couldn’t imagine. Nothing left, simply nothing. No rations whatever. The loss of life has not been too bad – hundreds, but if it had been night, I can’t even think what would have happened. No relief items had arrived in that area.”
The two-person team walked from village to village in a long loop, crossing dangerously damaged cable bridges over canyons and rivers, walking on ridges split with deep cracks from the earthquake, visiting a village of less than 100 inhabitants where 37 people died, and another village where the ground had cracked above and below the village, like bookends of warning.
When the monsoons begin in mid-June, what will happen?
In one village named Thale with up to 200 people, Daniel said, not only was every house destroyed, the whole slope of the mountain is sliding down. The villagers fled to a grazing ground for their animals on the top of the mountain at about 2500 meters.
As of yesterday, they had been there for 19 days. They had one tarp and no supplies. Yesterday that changed – the MAF-coordinated helicopters flew for Himalayan Life to this small, displaced community, bringing desperately needed provisions.
The second flight landed near Yangry, a village of about 600 people and 80 homes that Himalayan Life plans to ‘adopt’. No buildings were left intact following the first earthquake. “It’s been our prayer that we could identify just one place we can help with all we can – rebuilding schools, bridges, drinking water, houses. Yangry is the place for us,” Daniel said. His four-phase project includes rebuilding and family loans.
“People couldn’t believe that we were actually back. We promised we would come back, and we came bringing relief items. It has meant an unbelievable lot to them. So thank you guys. Good job here. We are very, very thankful.”
Please pray for Daniel and the Himalayan Life team as they continue this important work and for the communities they are able to help.