Kathmandu, Nepal – After 36 hours of intense search and rescue operations following a devastating earthquake in Nepal, authorities have now transitioned their efforts toward providing crucial relief to survivors who are anxiously awaiting food and shelter. The calamity unfolded late on Friday when a powerful 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck isolated western districts of the Himalayan nation.
The earthquake’s impact has been profoundly tragic, with a reported death toll of at least 157 individuals in the hardest-hit regions, particularly in Jajarkot district. These affected areas witnessed widespread destruction, reducing the once-standing mud houses to heaps of rubble, leaving many survivors with no choice but to spend the night exposed to the elements.
One such survivor, Mahesh Chanare, a 34-year-old plumber in Nalgad, Jajarkot, mourned the loss of his family members while preparing to cremate his father-in-law. “The rest of my family is safe,” he stated, “But the houses have buried everything with them; there is hardly anything to eat. No relief materials have reached us. People here desperately need food and tents.”
Jajarkot recorded a harrowing death toll of 105 people, while a neighboring district, Rukum, reported 52 fatalities, along with more than 100 injured individuals. As of now, the search and rescue missions have concluded.
“We are in touch with all areas, and rescue operations have wrapped up,” affirmed Gopal Chandra Bhattarai, a provincial police spokesman. He added that vigilance remains in place due to the remote nature of certain regions where information flow might still be limited.
Harish Chandra Sharma, a district official in Jajarkot, emphasized that the priority now is to deliver much-needed relief to the earthquake’s victims. “It has been a tough night, and we are trying to get relief materials to those affected by the quake,” said Sharma, who also acknowledged that some relief supplies have been distributed but stressed the necessity to reach all affected areas.
The earthquake’s initial tremor was followed by a 4.0-magnitude aftershock, intensifying the challenges faced by local communities. Security forces, including helicopters, were swiftly deployed to aid in search and rescue operations during the crisis.
Nepal is located on a significant geological faultline where the Indian tectonic plate collides with the Eurasian plate, forming the mighty Himalayan mountain range. Consequently, the region experiences frequent seismic activity.
The nation still bears the scars of a catastrophic 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015, which resulted in the tragic loss of nearly 9,000 lives, injuring over 22,000 individuals and rendering more than half a million homes uninhabitable. Additionally, six lives were claimed in November of the previous year due to a 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Doti district, near Jajarkot.
This recent earthquake disaster has once again underscored the vulnerability of Nepal to such natural calamities, reinforcing the need for preparedness, resilience, and comprehensive recovery strategies.