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People in fear after second earthquake in Nepal

15 May 2015


New tremor: passers-by outside a collapsed building, after a second earthquake struck in Kathmandu on Tuesday. At least 37 people were killed

New tremor: passers-by outside a collapsed building, after a second earthquake struck in Kathmandu on Tuesday. At least 37 people were killed

A SECOND large earthquake struck Nepal on Tuesday, less than three weeks after the earthquake on 15 April in which more than 8000 people died (News, 24 April).

The epicentre of the earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.4, was the town of Namche Bazaar, in eastern Nepal, the last large settlement before Everest base camp. The effects were felt in neighbouring India and Tibet.

A Christian Aid emergency-programme officer, Yeeshu Shukla, was in the Sindhupalchowk region, 40 miles away. "For a moment, I felt that the building I was in would come down," he said on Tuesday. "We rushed out. Everyone was out on the street, some of them panicking, with mothers screaming, looking for their children. There were four or five severe after-shocks. . .

"Travelling later towards Kathmandu, the roads were lined with people too scared to re-enter buildings, with heaps of rubble where some structures had collapsed. Now the race is to get relief through to the worst-hit areas - clothing and other essentials."

The protection co-ordinator for CAFOD, Catherine Cowley, who was in in Gorkha district when the earthquake struck, said: "The biggest impact is fear. Everyone is desperately trying to contact their families to make sure they're safe. Everyone is scared that more buildings will collapse.

"When we started the car to leave the village, a woman screamed, because she thought the engine noise was another aftershock. People are traumatised and panicking. Driving through the countryside, you can see people gathered outside, scared to go indoors."

The head of emergencies at Tearfund, Oenone Chadburn, said that seismologists had been warning for a long time that the region was "overdue for a lot of movement of the plates. But it's very difficult to then determine whether they are going to move a lot, and with several jolts, or a one-off event, or small aftershock."

She reported that there had been six aftershocks within the first three hours of the earthquake on Tuesday. The affected areas had the same terrain as had made the delivery of aid difficult after the first earthquake, she said. "It's extremely mountainous, with undeveloped roads and some locations you can only get to via trekking rather than vehicles. It's these kinds of locations that are where aid needs to get to the most."

A priority is housing. Up to half a million people have been made homeless since 25 April.

The public had been "extremely generous", Ms Greenwood said, but the challenging environment meant that the delivery of aid was costly. There was a need for heavy lifting equipment, for example, to clear landslides.

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