Nepal: The Disaster

Tracing steps back to when the earthquake occurred

Nepal

Nepal officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country located in South Asia. With an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi) and a population of approximately 27 million, Nepal is the world's 93rd largest country by land mass and the 41st most populous country. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. Nepal is separated from Bangladesh by the narrow Indian Siliguri Corridor and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim. Kathmandu is the nation's capital and largest metropolis. The collision between the Indian subcontinent and the Eurasian continent, which started in Paleogene time and continues today, produced the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau. Nepal lies completely within this collision zone, occupying the central sector of the Himalayan arc, nearly one third of the 2,400 km (1,500 mi)-long Himalayas

Day 1 : As it happened

  1. More than 1,000 people have been reported dead after a huge 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal.
  2. The country’s deputy prime minister, Bamdev Gautam, has declared a state of emergency and appealed for humanitarian assistance across the region.
  3. 18 climbers were found dead on Mount Everest after the tremor triggered an avalanche. Many more are trapped.
  4. The total death toll has risen quickly throughout the day, and is now thought to include at least 634 in the Kathmandu Valley and 300 more in the capital.
  5. 36 people have also been reported dead in India, 12 in China, four in Bangladesh and six in Tibet.
  6. The quake caused dozens of buildings in Kathmandu to collapse, including the historic Dharahara Tower.
  7. The city’s main hospital is overwhelmed by casualties and residents are facing a night on the streets with nowhere to go.
  8. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has ordered an immediate dispatch of relief and medical teams to Nepal, and the evacuation of Indian tourists.
  9. UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond said the government was in close contact with Nepal, and the British Embassy is offering assistance to the authorities and British Nationals in the country.
Nepal Quake: Hundreds Dead, Everest Shaken

Day 2 : The Aftermath

The death toll in Nepal’s “Great Quake”, as local media are calling it, stands at 6,260 and could climb much higher. Many villages in remote areas that were badly hit by the 7.8-magnitude quake on Saturday have yet to be reached. But along with immense human loss, there is cultural loss too. And its extent is also unknown.

Rescue teams face challenge as Nepal quake toll surpasses 2,300

Aid groups and governments intensified efforts to help Nepal on Sunday after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the capital Kathmandu and surrounding areas the day before.
European, Asian and North American governments sent emergency response teams to Nepal as the country struggles to cope with the disaster. However, blocked roads, collapsed buildings, and continuing aftershocks pose major setbacks for emergency crews searching for survivors in the capital and cut-off rural areas. "Communication is down in many areas. Widespread destruction, rubble and landslides are preventing access to provide aid in many villages," the Australian Red Cross said in a statement.

"Tragically, more bodies are being pulled from collapsed buildings every hour," the statement added. "Communication systems are congested and hospitals are crowded and are running out of room for storing dead bodies," Oxfam's Australia chief executive Helen Szoke told AFP.

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Reasons

Nepal is particularly prone to earthquakes. It sits on the boundary of two massive tectonic plates – the Indo-Australian and Asian plates. It is the collision of these plates that has produced the Himalaya mountains, and with them, earthquakes. These quakes are a dramatic manifestation of the ongoing convergence between the Indo-Australian and Asian tectonic plates that has progressively built the Himalayas over the last 50 million years. From the preliminary analysis of the seismic records we already know that the rupture initiated in an area about 70km north west of Kathmandu, with slip on a shallow dipping fault that gets deeper as you move further north.

Over about a minute, the rupture propagated east by some 130km and south by around 60km, breaking a fault segment some 15,000 square kilometres in area, with as much as 3m slip in places.

The plates across this segment of the Himalaya are converging at a rate of about 2cm this year. This slip released the equivalent of about a century of built up strain.

What caused the Nepal earthquake?

How earthquake safety measures could have saved thousands of lives in Nepal

Earthquake engineers often say earthquakes don’t kill people, collapsing buildings do. The tragic loss of life that followed the huge earthquake in Nepal on April 25 occurred despite the fact that the country is among the world’s leaders in community-based efforts to reduce disaster risk. But poverty, corruption, and poor governance have all led to a failure to enforce building codes – as has a shortage of skilled engineers, planners and architects.

Sadly the country was on its way to deploying knowledge and skills to tackle its long-term vulnerability just as the ground shook.

To keep buildings standing, it is essential to have adequate building and planning codes, as well as proper training and certification for professionals such as engineers, architects, and planners. But having certification and codes on paper does not ensure implementation or compliance. Nepal does, after all, have some of these things. Laws and regulations must also be monitored and enforced. That is not easy in a country such as Nepal, which has isolated villages, a history of conflict and many governance difficulties.

References

Project by : Rebeca Monis

Subject : Social Science

Teacher : Ms. Meera Jayaraj

Class : 10-A

School : Our Own Indian School