Nepal earthquake: rescue brings some hope, but thousands still await relief

Thirty-nine of 75 districts are reported to be affected by the earthquake

Published: Wednesday 15 April 2015

US-based Pacific Disaster Center has mapped preliminary assessments of damage in seven districts of Nepal

Five days after a powerful earthquake struck Nepal and brought thousands of structures crashing down on people, 15-year-old Pema Lamba was rescued alive from under the rubble in Kathmandu on Wednesday. The teenager survived by eating (clarified butter) ghee and drinking water dripping from wet clothes, BBC reported.

Rescue workers continue to look for survivors and retrieve bodies trapped under collapsed structures. The official death toll stands at nearly 5,500, according to the latest update. More than 10,000 have sustained injuries. Thousands of people are without shelter and adequate food and water.

US-based Pacific Disaster Center reported that emergency response organisations were finding it difficult to reach severely impacted remote villages. Access to these areas was already limited, but with the earthquake and heavy rainfall, existing roads and infrastructure may have sustained serious damage.

The aerial route is, as of now, a more reliable way of transporting relief materials to some remote regions. However, the influx of aid material from countries and international agencies had led to congestion at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport on Wednesday, a report from Pacific Disaster Center said. This is expected to delay the flow of relief material to affected communities.

Around 200 people protested outside the Nepalese Parliament in Kathmandu against the delay by the government in supplying relief material to remote areas. Village residents also blocked trucks carrying supplies, demanding that the government do more to help victims.

The World Health Organization said it was working closely with the Nepal government to ensure medical relief is reaching the people. WHO will also scale up its public health response in the coming days to contain the spread of disease. “We are establishing an early warning response and alert system and strengthening the disease surveillance system in affected areas to identify any diseases that could spread through the population,” Hyo-Jeong Kim, WHO operations officer, said at meeting of health-related organisations at UN House in Kathmandu.

Fact sheet
As governments and aid agencies prepare a rehabilitation plan for communities affected by the April 25 earthquake, they will have to take into account the existing economic vulnerability of Nepal. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has compiled these facts about the status of hunger in the Himalayan nation:
  1. One in four people in Nepal lives below the national poverty line—which is just 50 cents per day—so many struggle to feed themselves and their families.
  2. Nepal’s vulnerability to high food prices, especially in remote mountain areas, drives hunger. Average food prices in the mountain and hill regions are over 100 per cent higher than in other locations.
  3. In Nepal, approximately 5 million people are undernourished. 41 per cent of children under five are stunted—short for their age—and 29 per cent are underweight
  4. 70 per cent of the population works the land for a living and agriculture accounts for more than a third of the country’s economic output.
  5. Agricultural production is not keeping pace with population growth—and frequent natural disasters are a constant threat to livelihoods.
  6. The average yearly earning of a person in Nepal is US$ 707 and the country ranks 145 out of 187 on the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index.
  7. In 2014, WFP provided mid-day meals to 180,000 children in 2,115 primary schools in Nepal.
  8. WFP aims to provide food for 1.4 million people in urgent need of assistance after the quake over the next three months.
  9. 39 of 75 districts of the country are reported to be affected by the earthquake.
  10. An estimated 8 million people have been affected by the earthquake, that's almost 30 per cent of the entire population.


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