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Nepal after quakes: Still grappling with jolts of catastrophe

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By Manas Dwivedi

It has been nearly four months since Nepal was hit with a series of high scale earthquakes. The devastating calamity killed around 9,000 people and made lakhs of residents homeless. While the natives of the Himalayan country are fighting hard to get their lives back to normal, the authority in Nepal seems to be rather nonchalant about the agony faced by the people.

It is really tough when a country is badly thrashed by nature’s call, and it becomes even more painful when the government doesn’t seem to understand the need of the hour. After the massive round of earthquakes rocked Nepal, the whole world extended its support to the nation to fight and overcome the disaster. But unfortunately, major benefits are yet to reach the victims and aid the public.

source: jewishnews.co.uk
source: jewishnews.co.uk

Many foreign countries and agencies including the World Bank extended financial help to Nepal. Around $4.1 billion was announced; but so far, the government has been unable to make any arrangement to receive the amount and neither has it invested any money in reconstruction.

The recently drafted National Reconstruction Authority states that the government wanted to start the rebuilding in early October, but the delay in approval of plans has further extended the work. Chief executive officer of the authority, Govind Raj Pokharel also accepts that their response has been slow.

According to Pokharel, the major reason behind not spending any money on rebuilding and distribution could be the government’s unpopular attempt to pass a contentious constitution. He said, “The new political system will divide the country into new regions. It caused deadly clashes and hauled the development tasks.” He further added, “We would have liked it if the government had concentrated on reconstruction first rather than anything else.”

Victims too stated their miseries with a heavy heart. Maili Pariyar, a local crafter exclaimed, “We have lost everything. We are desperate! For how long will we wait for help?” Pariyar explained of having received only tent material and food from relief camps. She said the government has not provided anything yet.

Nepal is receiving strong criticism around the globe for their phlegmatic style of response. The country was already under-prepared to face the earthquakes and later, it is showing lapses in relief aid as well.

credit: www.theatlantic.com
credit: www.theatlantic.com

A recent United Nation’s report reveals that nearly 3 million survivors are still in need of urgent help. Many have lost their homes, and a number of institutions –mainly buildings, offices and monuments– are badly destroyed. Another government-led assessment shows that around a million people in the worst affected district may go down to the international poverty line of US$1.25 in coming times.

The post-quake devastation has a left number of children facing different health hazards. More than 10,000 kids are severely malnourished, among which, over 900 are acutely affected. Hundred of kids in the country have lost their parents, whereas schools and classrooms are still under debris.

Another high-risk factor for Nepali’s is the threat of flood and landslide due to the intense monsoon season. Access to these areas is increasingly becoming difficult. Although the humanitarian situation around the area has improved, education, health and sanitation condition will still take long to improve.

Relief camp near Kathmandu Credit: www.theatlantic.com
Relief camp near Kathmandu
Credit: www.theatlantic.com

While millions of people are begging to get adequate food, water and shelter, the government is still making plans for reconstructing the nation. The next major challenge for the government would be to safeguard refugees from biting winters. They must ensure adequate measures for those living in tents.

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9 Climbers Pulled From Snow After A Sudden Storm On Mount Gurja, Nepal

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

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Mount Gurja
Tourists take pictures at Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Mount Annapurna range in the background, some 200 km (124 miles) west of Kathmandu, Nov. 30, 2008. Annapurna, at 8,091 meters high, is the 10th highest mountain in the world.. VOA

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the mountaineering community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 meters (yards) away.

“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Mount Gurja
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp.

A second helicopter along with a team of rescue specialists and villagers were also involved in the mission, which has been hampered by strong winds as well as the camp’s remoteness in the Dhaulagiri mountain range of Nepal’s Annapurna region.

The bodies of the climbers, five South Koreans and four Nepalis, will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

‘Like a bomb went off’

The expedition’s camp was destroyed by the powerful storm, which hit the area late Thursday or Friday, flattening all the tents and leaving a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

Mount Gurja
Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, organised the expedition

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Experts puzzled

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Also Read: Nepal Saves Its Tiger Population, Doubles It

“At this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places,” Richards said.

The team had been on 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route. (VOA)