Here we go again


Chad Loftis

SIM International

Another significant earthquake - this time at magnitude 7.4 - has shaken Nepal today just as many were beginning to believe the aftershocks from April's devastating quake were subsiding.

"People ran on the street holding on to each other and crying," said SIM director in Kathmandu, Gabriel Jens. "Some houses that were unstable collapsed, but in our area all is fine." The renewed shaking, which originated near Mount Everest, was felt as far away as Delhi. "There is a bit of a 'here we go again' sort of feeling," said Jens. "We ask each other if we have enough energy for the next round of aftershocks. People in our lane are quite scared - not knowing what to do."

All SIM personnel and teammates are accounted for and safe, but the extent of the destruction from this second major quake may not be clear for days. Dozens of deaths and major landslides are being reported. Jens expressed hope that this would serve to galvanise the international aid community and speed relief efforts.

"The international community that has arrived after the 25th of April shock ... will now feel what it was like for the people here, and that may be the first time for many to be in that situation."

Meanwhile, relief efforts across the nation continue. The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that about 1400 metric tonnes of relief cargo has been processed through the Kathmandu airport for 49 humanitarian organisations. Among them is United Mission to Nepal (UMN) which has been working hard - with the support of SIM and other partners - to deliver aid to the badly affected Dhading district. 

More than 700 deaths are reported in Dhading with many more injured as well as the destruction of homes and vital infrastructure such as local medical centres. In the seven subdistricts where UMN has been working, 98 percent of homes are severely damaged or destroyed, making shelter still the top priority. Food, clean water and sanitation will also continue to be important for some time. 

"We interviewed a few community members who received the relief packages," said one member of the UMN team in a report on the delivery of aid in the Ree subdistrict. "All expressed their happiness and thankfulness ... they were happy knowing that their people provided the relief support and cared for their community."

Delivering and distributing supplies has been severely hampered by heavy rain, landslides and a shortage of helicopters. 

In Lamjung district, SIM's Jenny Kim outlined a few of the difficulties the team from Lamjung Hospital, where the Kims work, faced to deliver tarps, food and soap to two nearby villages: "Usually a two to three hour drive by car, their journey took over 10 hours due to bad roads and rain. Both a tractor and a jeep required the team to push them over mud and rocks. Often they had to proceed by foot over jagged and slippery rocks."

In Kathmandu, the structural engineering team from Engineer Ministries International (EMI) was more than halfway through their assessments of community buildings for KISC school.

After today's quake, says Jens, "they may have to go around again to see if the houses are still ok."




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