Awaiting relief from a quaking state
Amid frantic search and rescue efforts that are coming to a close, earthquake survivors are awaiting food, shelter and medical treatment from the government that is trying hard to get its acts together, in a grim reminder of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake that killed about 9,000 people and caused loss of infrastructure worth billions of rupees. Hundreds of survivors are spending the night under the open sky after their houses collapsed as a mag-6.4 earthquake hit Jajarkot and east Rukum late Friday.
The emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers held at Singha Durbar on Sunday decided to set up the main liaison office at Surkhet and the auxiliary liaison office at Nepalgunj to make the search, rescue and relief distribution effective.
“The government will provide Rs 200,000 to each bereaved family and government hospitals will provide free treatment to the injured. Makeshift shelters will be managed for the affected,” said government spokesperson and Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma.
“Since the reconstruction work cannot be effective through the traditional construction method and the existing procurement act, there is a demand to do the reconstruction work through a robust and effective mechanism. An action plan will be formulated accordingly,” the government spokesperson said.
The modality for providing subsidies for the quake victims to construct houses also figured in the meeting. “Genuine victims should get subsidies, and the houses built should be properly utilized,” said Sharma. The meeting also decided to provide lunch expenses to those deployed in the search, rescue and relief distribution and asked one and all to be patient in this time of disaster.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has issued directives for making the relief and rehabilitation for the Jajarkot earthquake victims effective. Addressing the meeting of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management National Council at Singha Durbar on Sunday, he instructed relevant authorities to conduct relief and rehabilitation operations effectively.
PM Dahal expressed sorrow over the loss of life and properties resulting from the quake and stressed the need to utilize the disaster as an important opportunity for reconstruction.
The 13th meeting of the council was convened to discuss the damage resulting from the earthquake, and the steps the government needs to take in the aftermath of the disaster. On the occasion, PM directed all to be serious in making the post-quake rescue, relief and reconstruction effective, describing the steps taken by the three tiers of the government and other bodies right after the disaster as “positive”.
He said preparations have been made to undertake post-disaster works in a prompt manner by making suitable changes in the existing Acts, regulations and structures based on the best practices in the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake.
“I thank all the parties, the federal government and various agencies, the provincial government and the local governments for their post-earthquake initiatives. We have carried out search and rescue operations. Now we need to concentrate on relief and rehabilitation,” the PM reiterated.
He directed all concerned to manage warm clothes for the earthquake victims and make medical treatment for the injured more effective. Reminding that Nepal is a country vulnerable to natural disasters, the PM acknowledged that the government’s disaster preparedness has not been adequate.
“For the next three days, let us make maximum efforts for relief. The existing Acts, procedures and structures may have to be amended to make reconstruction works more effective. We need to make a sound review of our past experiences as well,” PM Dahal reiterated.
While 157 people have lost their lives in the quake, six more survivors have been brought to Nepalgunj-based Bheri Hospital for treatment from Jajarkot and Rukum, said Banke’s Chief District Officer, Shrawan Kumar Pokharel. They are among 38 quake survivors brought from the quake-hit districts to Nepalgunj for treatment.
Open air medical facility
A 10-bed health facility at Barekot, the epicenter of the quake, is attending to those injured in the quake in the open as the jolt has also damaged its building. Senior ANM Kalpana Rokaya said temporary arrangements are in place for providing healthcare services majorly targeting the quake survivors. Meanwhile, Jajarkot continues to experience the aftershocks of Friday’s quake.
Seismological team in Jajarkot
A team from the National Earthquake Monitoring and Research Center at Lainchaur has reached Jajarkot to conduct a study on the mag-6.4 temblor. The team under senior seismologist Lokvijaya Adhikari will carry out a comprehensive study and research on the quake, said director-general of the Department of Mines and Geology, Ram Prasad Ghimire. Meanwhile, senior seismologist Adhikari said that the Jajarkot earthquake was not an aftershock of the Bajhang earthquake, but a new one. Four aftershocks have occurred following the earthquake that hit Ramidanda of Jajarkot. An aftershock of mag-4.5 was recorded the same night at 12:08 pm, followed by mag-4.2 jolt at 12:29 pm, mag-4.3 jolt at 12:35 pm and mag-4.2 quake at 3:40 on Saturday afternoon.
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