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State failing thousands of quake survivors

State failing thousands of quake survivors

Thousands of people rendered homeless after Friday’s earthquake are facing a shortage of food, tents and medicine. Though government ministers are pouring in the affected areas and the government is talking about providing essentials to the people, the situation on the ground is different.

Daily essentials are yet to reach several places and people including children are living under the open sky in the absence of tents. According to Suresh BK, a resident of Chiuritol, 13 people lost their lives in the village while several others were injured in the earthquake. At least 56 houses in the village were completely destroyed while 110 houses, although still standing, have become inhabitable, said BK.

The villagers have been waiting for help to arrive. “But so far, we have not received any. All our crops, grains, food, clothes and other valuables lie buried in the debris. We haven’t been able to retrieve anything as there are no security personnel to help us,” he said. “It is unbearably cold outside and none of us have had any sleep since Friday night.” Though dozens of organizations have pledged to provide aid to earthquake victims, they are yet to reach the affected people.

Rescue and search teams said on Monday that the first part of their mission—to rescue survivors, get the injured to treatment and search for bodies—was over. “Now we are working on the second phase of our work to distribute relief material, get aid to the villagers, and at the same time we are collecting details about the damages,” government official Harish Chandra Sharma said. 

In Chepare, villagers were going through piles of rocks and logs that used to be their homes on Monday, looking for anything they could salvage. “Most of what belonged to us is under the rubble, all our beds, clothes, whatever jewelry and money we had, it's all under there,” Nirmala Sharma said, pointing to her wrecked home.

She said they got a tent and some food on Sunday night. Authorities distributed rice, oil, instant noodles and salt in the village, to last them for a few days. Tarpaulin and plastic sheets made for temporary shelters for a lucky few while thousands of others spent a third night in the cold.

Mina Bika said her family was sleeping on Friday night when the ceiling fell and buried them. A relative rescued them. Her husband was badly injured and taken to hospital in the town of Surkhet while she and the couple's two sons were only lightly hurt.

“It felt like the world had collapsed and I was not sure if anyone had even survived and would be able to help,” she said. Most of the homes in the villages in the districts of Jajarkot and Rukum—where houses are traditionally built by stacking rocks and logs—either collapsed or were severely damaged but even the few buildings made out of concrete were also damaged.

Almost half of those killed in the earthquake on Friday were children, it has been found. According to data with the police, 78 of the 153 people killed in the quake on the night of Nov 3 were children. Of the deceased children, 50 died in Jajarkot and 28 in Rukum West due to the quake, said Deputy Superintendent of Police Santosh Roka.

Twenty eight of 52 people who died in the quake in Rukum West were children, said the district police chief Namraj Bhattarai. “Most of the deceased in Rukum West were children. Two 10-month-old children have also lost their lives,” he said. According to the Jajarkot police, of the 105 deceased in Jajarkot, 50 were children, 33 women and 18 men. In Rukum West, 16 women and eight men died in the quake.

Sixteen thousand five hundred and seventy houses have been completely destroyed due to the earthquake in the six local levels in Rukum Paschim. Chairman of the District Disaster Management Committee and Chief District Officer, Hari Prasad Panta, said that this number might increase as data collection is still under way in the district. Based on the data presented by the municipality mayors and the rural municipality chairpersons in the Committee meeting, the highest number of houses have been damaged in Aathbiskot Municipality of the district. It is stated that 7,148 houses have suffered complete damage in Aathbiskot Municipality, followed by 3,146 houses in Sanibheri Rural Municipality.

Seven hundred and twenty-two houses in Sanibheri have been partially damaged by the Friday night tremor. Similarly, 1987 houses have been completely damaged and 4.374 houses partly damaged in Chaurajahari Municipality while 2,300 houses have been completely destroyed and 3,500 partially damaged in Musikot Municipality. Likewise, 1935 houses have been completely damaged and 1,258 houses partially damaged in Triveni Rural Municipality while 18 houses have suffered complete damage and 107 houses partial damage in Banfikot Rural Municipality, it is stated.