5 Things You Need to Know about the Earthquake in Nepal

5 Things You Need to Know about the Earthquake in Nepal

A devastating earthquake pounded and rocked Katmandu, Nepal on Saturday. 

With its power and intensity, the earthquake is the country’s worst in 80 years. As of late Sunday night, more than 3,700 were confirmed dead and thousands more were injured.

Strong aftershocks have continued to hit Nepal’s capital in the aftermath, launching a slew of rescue and relief missions to help victims recover from the disaster. In response, groups from across the globe have promised to send aid.

1. What was the impact of the earthquake on the people?

More than 3,800 were killed in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal. Nearly 6,000 people were injured in the disaster. Katmandu, Nepal is home to about 1.2 million people, and thousands lost their homes. 

People have turned to camping in the streets or seeking shelter in schools and government offices as they wait for the aftershocks to pass or figure out plans for a new home. Many fear that the aftershocks are signaling another earthquake to come. 

"We don't feel safe at all. There have been so many aftershocks. It doesn't stop," said Rajendra Dhungana, 34. "I've watched hundreds of bodies burn. I never thought I'd see so many... Nepal should learn a lesson from this. They should realize proper buildings should be built. There should be open spaces people can run to."

2. How much damage was caused?

The country’s historic landmark, the Dharahara tower, was destroyed in the quake. The tower was a 19th century landmark in Katmandu and boasted a spiral staircase and a circular balcony. Many homes and other infrastructures were also destroyed. Much of Nepal’s infrastructure was not up to code. According to Engineers Without Borders UK, about 80 percent of new buildings in Nepal are built informally, that is, without any engineering expertise. Near the epicenter of the quake, about 90 percent of the 1,000 homes in the Laprak and Barpak villages were toppled over.

3. What happened at Mount Everest?

During the earthquake, avalanches were triggered at Mount Everest. Eighteen people were killed and dozens more were injured at Mount Everest’s base camp. It is now the deadliest event in the mountain’s history. 

Many were taken out of base camp by helicopter, and those who stayed behind also faced aftershocks and more, smaller avalanches. An American, Google executive Dan Fredinburg, died in the avalanche. Another 25 climbers are also missing; they were on the way to Camp 2 from Camp 1.

4. How did the country handle the earthquake?

Scientists had speculated that a “great” earthquake could hit Nepal. The last major earthquake was in 1934, and the area gets tremors of magnitude 4 or 5 several times a year. In 2001, the Global Earthquake Safety Initiative report said that among 21 at-risk cities in the world, Katmandu had the highest lethal potential from earthquakes. 

So far, hospitals in the capital are full, and much of the area has been designated as crisis zones, but safe shelters are scarce and authorities weren’t prepared for the level of devastation. Nepal is a poor country that relies mostly on tourism dollars from Mount Everest and other climbing expeditions.

5. How can Americans help with recovery?

Many countries and organizations have stepped up and promised aid to Nepal. The United States on Sunday sent about 70 disaster-relief personnel to Nepal, stocked with about 45 tons of aid gear. The U.S. Embassy in Nepal also earmarked $1 million for immediate assistance. 

The United Arab Emirates and the Israeli military also sent manpower to Nepal, and France was expected to dispatch rescuers on Sunday. Britain also promised a $7.6 million aid package and Australia pledged $5 million.

UNICEF says that nearly 1 million children need help in Nepal and is asking for donations to respond. Other organizations asking for donations include the Red Cross, Mercy Corps and Save the Children. Check here for more information on how to donate to these relief efforts. 


Photo courtesy: Samaritan's Purse

Publication date: April 27, 2015