Monthly Archives: May 2015

International aid finally reaches remote areas of quake-hit Nepal

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It has been difficult to gauge the extent of the quake’s damage, let alone deliver aid to Nepal’s more far-flung districts.

Ten days after Nepal was struck by a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake, international relief workers have finally gained access to areas cut off by the disaster and international aid has reached some of the nation’s more remote areas, FRANCE 24 reports.

Click to watch FRANCE 24’s special report 

Peace in the midst of quake for humanitarian Bishnu Adhikari

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The days following the deadly Nepal earthquake have been intense and exhaustive for humanitarian Bishnu Adhikari.

“It’s a difficult situation but I am not discouraged,” Adhikari said late Thursday night via video chat from his home in Kathmandu. “I know life has ups and downs. Sometimes we go through these situations for our personal learning. I am grateful I am here and will do whatever I can in my capacity. There are so many things to be grateful for.”

Adhikari said he and his family, along with an estimated 70 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were in a chapel last Saturday when the walls began shaking. When the 7.8-magnitude earthquake was over, the people left the chapel and retreated to a fairly safe area where nothing would fall on them. There they began singing hymns. The music calmed many troubled hearts, Adhikari said.

“Wow, what a comforting spirit,” Adhikari said. “My mind started thinking about a relief plan and how we could help others.”

With homes gone or damaged, many, including Adhikari’s family, slept outside in somewhat cold temperatures for a few days. Fortunately, their home didn’t sustain major damage, and the Adhikaris were able to move back in and use their food storage and other supplies.

Most of those first days were spent locating people and coordinating with authorities on how to help others get shelter, water and food. Only one telephone system functioned for the first two days, and it wasn’t accessible to many of the remote villages, so it was difficult to communicate with people, Adhikari said.

“It’s been a good effort from everybody to help each other,” said Adhikari, who said there are about 155 Mormons in Nepal. Adhikari said he will continue to assist in coordinating relief efforts with the Red Cross, the LDS Church, the government in Nepal and Choice Humanitarian, a Utah-based nonprofit organization where he is the in-country director. He will also participate in the rebuilding process.

While the death and destruction have been tragic, Adhikari hopes for safer structures, better long-term planning by the government and greater unity among the ethnic communities of Nepal. He hopes people will turn their hearts to the Heavenly Father in this time of need. Most of all, he hopes to help as many people as he can.

“It’s a daunting task,” he said. “There are many reasons to complain and blame others, but I am not in that game. I don’t want to waste my time. I believe in … making a difference for as many individuals as possible. That is what I’m trying to do.”

[Deseret News]

As hopes fade, Nepal requests foreign rescuers to leave

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The government of Nepal is asking foreign search-and-rescue teams to leave now that the likelihood of finding survivors buried by last month’s earthquake has largely passed. The official death toll now exceeds 7,300.

Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, a Home Ministry spokesman, said on Monday roughly half the 4,000 rescuers had already left. “I think all the rescuers will go to their respective countries by Friday.”

There seems almost no chance that anyone alive is still trapped amid the rubble from the quake, which struck just before noon on April 25. On Sunday, though, three survivors were found in the Sindhupalchok district, an especially hard hit and largely rural area north of Kathmandu.

Dr. Ian Norton, head of the World Health Organization’s program of foreign medical teams, said that the thousands of rescuers, who often work as firefighters in their home countries, had saved a total of 16 people in the aftermath of the quake, and that about 50 foreign medical teams comprising nearly 10,000 people had saved hundreds of lives and even more limbs.

[The New York Times]

Obstacles to Nepal earthquake relief

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There’s a lot of aid headed toward Nepal, but it’s not getting there as fast as people would like. The reason: There aren’t enough runways.

The country’s only international airport is Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. It’s tiny. It has just one runway. So it can’t accommodate all the planes flying in.

The single runway has been closed several times for earthquake repairs. Also, there are limited places for planes to park. On many days, pilots circled for hours waiting for another plane to take off because there’s no room to land.

This bottleneck has slowed the recovery effort. A terminal duty officer, who wouldn’t give his name because he’s not allowed to talk to the media, says the situation is bad: “It is a mess here. ”

That’s not the only obstacle to relief work. Some groups show up and don’t know what to do or where to go. Or how to get there.

“Even where there was no disaster here, it was just really difficult to get around,” says Lisa Rudolph, an American Red Cross worker who arrived from Washington, D.C. “Even within Kathmandu itself it can take an hour to get from one point to another. And so now with roads blocked [due to earthquake damage and] the airport congested, it’s going to be really difficult.”