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Govt, charities rush to support Nepal quake victims

At least 157 were killed and more than 5,000 houses damaged after earthquake hit on Nov. 3
Survivors of a recent earthquake sit in front of a damaged house in Chiuri, a village in Nepal's Jajarkot district on Nov. 5.
Survivors of a recent earthquake sit in front of a damaged house in Chiuri, a village in Nepal's Jajarkot district on Nov. 5. (Photo: AFP)
Published: November 07, 2023 07:33 AM GMT
Updated: November 07, 2023 09:38 AM GMT

Catholic charities have joined the government in reaching out and assisting victims of an earthquake that killed at least 157 people, injured scores and made thousands homeless in Nepal.

The authorities have concluded rescue operations following the quake that hit Jajarkot and Rukum districts in the western part of the Himalayan nation on Nov. 3.

The quake measured 6.4 in magnitude, Nepal's National Seismological Center said.

At least 157 people were killed, and some 5,000 houses were damaged, said Narayan Prasad Bhattarai, a Home Affairs ministry spokesman, adding that efforts are now focused on relief and recovery.

Worst-hit Jajarkot district recorded at least 105 deaths.

Relief and humanitarian organizations have started mobilizing resources including the distribution of relief material like blankets, clothes, tents, and tarpaulins to affected families.

Besides the government’s relief packages, the governments of India and China have provided relief material worth millions of rupees to also distribute to the affected families.

Bibas Rawal, 31, lost four family members, including two young children, in the quake in a village near Nalgad municipality in Jajarkot district.

Rawal’s one-story home made of mud and stone collapsed and crushed his mother, wife and two children when the disaster struck.

His critically injured father, and six-year-old daughter, were pulled from the rubble nearly two hours after the disaster.

Rawal, a micro-finance organization employee in neighboring Rukum district escaped the disaster and rushed home to Jajarkot to seek out his family members. 

Dozens of people like Rawal lost loved ones in the quake in Nalgad, which recorded at least 55 deaths.

Grieving families and villagers cremated the victims on Nov. 5 following traditional Hindu funeral rites on the banks of the Bheri River.

Dev Bahadur Singh said his friend Rawal is still in shock and unable to process his grief.

“He keeps on crying and asking for his family members. His father is receiving treatment at a local health facility,” he said. 

Prakash Shah, 49, from Khalanga in Jajarkot district said his family of five miraculously escaped the late-night quake while two others, a guest and a tenant, died after being crushed under the debris.

“Everyone was asleep as it was almost midnight when the tremor struck,” he said.

“We were sleeping on the top floor and suddenly the topmost ceiling fell on us. Luckily, a wooden structure fell in way that made a small space for us to escape and we jumped down and scrambled out of the rubble,” he said.

Shah’s wife sustained head and shoulder injuries and is receiving treatment at the regional hospital.

Most of the 55 dead in Nalgad were children, women and elderly people as most of the young male population are migrant workers in India and other foreign lands.

“The house is uninhabitable, we are not even able to collect our belongings as everything is buried under the rubble. The nights are hard as we are living under open skies without proper shelter in the cold,” Shah told UCA News.

Catholic charity Caritas Nepal said it has mobilized a team for relief and recovery missions in the affected districts.

A total of 15 million Nepali rupees (US$112,576) has been approved for earthquake aid and rehabilitation, said the charity’s regional manager, Janak Prasad Sharma.

The Catholic Relief Services has allocated US$50,000 for quake-victims and other Caritas offices in Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy and Australia have promised to support the recovery process, said Sharma.

Caritas is now focusing on two urgent needs — food and shelter — for affected communities as well as a winter aid package of blankets and foam padding that can serve as mattresses.

Meanwhile, a 5.8 magnitude aftershock hit Jajarkot on Nov. 6, but no further casualties were yet reported.

United Nations agencies, including the World Food Program (WFP), have been providing temporary shelter, food, and non-food items as a part humanitarian assistance to affectedpeople, the UN office in Nepal said in statement on Nov. 6. The aid has benefited about 7,500 people.

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