Nepal: CARE responds after second major earthquake

By: 
CARE
Yarsa village in Sindhupalchowk district in ruins after a second major earthquake hit Nepal on 12 May. Columns of dust rise from the fallen houses and landslides around the village.

Little more than two weeks after Nepal’s worst earthquake in more than 80 years, the country was traumatised by a second powerful earthquake on Tuesday 12 May.

CARE was in the process of scaling up its response in the remote Sindhupalchowk district at the time of the second earthquake. A CARE team was in the village of Yarsa, Sindhupalchowk, doing an assessment and preparation. They reported that houses standing after the first earthquake have now fallen, causing more injuries. CARE helped facilitate the evacuation of a seriously injured woman in Yarsa.

Helicopter stands by to fly out an injured woman

A helicopter stands by to evacuate a woman from Yarsa village who was injured by falling rubble. She is now in a stable condition in Kathmandu.

On Wednesday (13 May), a CARE team continued to assess the situation in Sindhupalchowk, aiming to providing relief supplies in the next two days. CARE’s delivery of emergency assistance to affected communities has continued in the districts of Dhading, Lamjung and Gorkha.

According to OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), the 7.3 magnitude quake struck at 12:50 local time Tuesday with the epicentre 47 miles (76km) north-east of Kathmandu. A series of strong aftershocks followed. The latest earthquake killed at least 65 more people, injured nearly 2,000 and caused additional homes and buildings to crumble. At least 17 people died in India.

Lex Kassenberg, CARE’s country director in Nepal, was standing atop a hill in Pachok, Lamjung district, organising a relief aid distribution when the earthquake hit. He said:

I could see cracks start appearing in houses. People were in a complete panic, running towards open places, or to their houses if they had family there.

CARE Nepal is sending reinforcements to Sindhupalchowk on Wednesday, including technical experts in water and sanitation.

Lucy Beck, CARE’s emergencies communications officer, was in Sindhupalchowk Wednesday participating in assessments in communities already badly affected by the first major earthquake. She said:

In villages our team has visited all remaining structures were destroyed by the second quake. There was panic and there is still a lot of fear in the community. Rubble and rocks are still falling and there have been a number of strong aftershocks. Roads have been blocked so our team had to walk several hours to get access.

Destroyed houses after earthquake

Destroyed houses in Yarsa village after the second major earthquake centred to the north-east of Kathmandu. The village is located around 60km from the epicentre of the earthquake.

CARE is looking at ways to get essential items to these communities as quickly as possible using trucks, helicopters or on foot. Supplies will include hygiene kits, as many household latrines have been destroyed by the quake. Lucy Beck reports:

It is a race against the clock before monsoon season begins and conditions for communities deteriorate even further.

The initial earthquake on 25 April killed at least 7,365 people, injured more than 14,355 and destroyed an estimated 191,000 homes, while damaging 175,000 more. Since then, CARE has reached nearly 11,000 people with food, emergency shelter and hygiene items, and is scaling up its response to reach 100,000 of the most vulnerable people, with a focus on the remote areas of Nepal. Over the next month CARE plans to distribute weather-resistant emergency shelter to 30,000 people in preparation for the monsoon rains. In the coming week, vital food and shelter items are being distributed to villages in Sindhupalchowk and Dhading.

CARE is particularly concerned about the 14,000 women who are expected to give birth in Nepal over the next month. An estimated 2,000 of them are at risk of experiencing complications that require emergency obstetric care. CARE has started distributing reproductive health kits to villages in Gorkha this week that include essential medicines and supplies for birthing attendants to handle medical complications in delivery.

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Follow the latest updates from Lucy Beck on her twitter account @lucycbeck

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.