More than 5,000 deaths have been reported in the recent 7.8 earthquake that viciously shook central Nepal and its neighboring countries on April 25th, forcing Nepal into a national state of emergency. The epicenter of the quake was almost exactly between two of Nepal’s largest cities, Kathmandu and Pokhara, both of which I had the chance to explore during my six weeks in Nepal last semester. Reports and photos show the rubble that remains in place of the modern and ancient buildings in both cities and villages hit by the disaster.
Many sacred and ancient ruins in the Kathmandu area have been reduced to piles of rubble, trapping an unknown number of both natives and tourists underneath. The famous Durbar Square landmark was severely damaged, along with Kathmandu’s 200-step Dharaha tower. To many the destruction of such significant buildings was, “culturally speaking an incalculable loss,” according to Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit. While in Kathmandu and the areas around it, I took notice of the architecture; its mismatched and lego-pieced style seemed quirky, beautiful and precarious. Indeed, when the earthquake hit, their buildings and infrastructure were not ready for what the earth had in mind.
Not only did the earthquake destroy many beautiful towns and cities of Nepal, but it also caused avalanches on Mt. Everest during the height of its climbing season. Many climbers are injured, deceased, or still missing. The avalanches reached the base camp, while horrified Everest rescuers hurried to save as many as they could. Indeed, rescue workers are still searching for survivors.
With more devastation is being reported every hour, hospitals are overcrowded to the point that not all of the injured can be treated. The Red Cross and other disaster relief organizations have correspondents already on the scene doing what they can to help provide care, clean water and food.
I am still unable to reach any of the friends I made living in Kathmandu and Pokhara, but I did manage to get one message back from the principal of the school I volunteered at in Gaun Shahar. Principal Shamser Thapa wrote, “Thank you so much for the messages, and we our students, teachers and villagers are good . Thank you.” Even this simple correspondence gave me a peace of mind that many people with friends and family in Nepal do not have. To know that he, his family, along with the village and its neighbors were safe from the earthquake’s catastrophic destruction lightened my heart. Many victims of the earthquake remain to be found and many prayers are praying to support Nepal on its road to recovery. Throughout their struggle, Nepali residents have never ceased to show how thankful they are for the love and support being sent to them, continuously demonstrating their capacity for equanimity in this devastating crisis. There are many ways to help bring Nepal and its neighboring devastated areas back to onto their feet including donating to the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other organizations sending rescue relief as well as just simply sending love and hope their way.
By: Chloe Zehr, News Editor