Nepal struggles with devastation after quake

Death toll passes 3,200 two days after quake as emergency services continue rescue operations and thousands sleep in open for second night

Photo by: TRT WORLD
Photo by: TRT WORLD

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The death toll in Nepal following the devastating earthquake which struck two days ago has passed 3,200 as rescuers continue to unearth victims.

More than 6,500 people were also injured in the quake and its aftermath, according to figures released by Nepali police on Monday.

Thousands of Nepalis began fleeing the capital Kathmandu, fearing shortages of food and water and continuing powerful aftershocks and fearing shortages of food and water. Roads leading out of the city of one million were jammed with people, many with babies in their arms, trying to climb onto buses or hitch a ride. People also flocked to Kathmandu airport, desperate to get a flight out.

Many said they had slept in the open since Saturday's quake, either because their homes were flattened or they were terrified that aftershocks would bring them crashing down.

Overwhelmed authorities were trying to cope with a shortage of drinking water and food, as well as the threat of disease.

Speaking at a radio address, the Minister for Home Affairs Bam Dev Gautam called the earthquake a "national calamity."

The disaster has underlined the woeful state of Nepal's medical facilities.

The sick and wounded were lying out in the open in Kathmandu, as hospitals have been overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster with many reporting a lack of capacity and supplies.

Surgeons have set up an operating theatre inside a tent in the grounds of Kathmandu Medical College.

Nepal has only 2.1 physicians and 50 hospital beds for every 10,000 people, according to a 2011 World Health Organization report.

The earthquake, the worst to hit the Himalayan nation since 1934, destroyed many old buildings and ruptured roads while telephone and Internet communication was severely disrupted.

Kathmandu's old district, which was home to numerous protected historical sites, has been the worst hit according to officials.

Several historic temples have collapsed, including in the iconic Durbar Square. The historic 62-meter tall Dharahara tower in central Kathmandu, was also brought crashing down by the quake.

A total of 3,218 people were confirmed killed and more than 6,500 were injured. The toll is likely to rise as rescuers struggle to reach remote regions.

Another 66 were killed across the border in India and at least another 20 in Tibet, China's state news agency said.

The mountains that define Nepal make it difficult to deliver relief. Aftershocks are also complicating operations.

Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist at business research firm IHS, said long-term reconstruction costs in Nepal using proper building standards for an earthquake zone could be more than $5 billion, or around 20 percent of the country's GDP.

"With housing construction standards in Nepal being extremely low ... the impact of the earthquake has been devastating based on initial reports," he said in an early analysis of the likely damage.

TRTWorld and agencies