Nepalese pick up the pieces after devastating quake

Residents of Kathmandu now cook in makeshift camps after a powerful earthquake flattened their homes.

    Nepalese pick up the pieces after devastating quake
    A magnitude-7.8 earthquake shook Nepal, killing at least 4,700 people and forcing many to seek shelter in makeshift tents [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]

    Kathmandu, Nepal - Pawan Tandukar sat outdoors as a group of volunteers in a central Kathmandu neighbourhood prepared dinner at a makeshift cooking station.

    Men and women chopped vegetables and tofu on two table tennis tables and heated large cooking pots.

    After the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 and killed at least 4,700 people, residents in the neighbourhood of Naxal were doing what they could to help each other and the people camping outdoors at the adjacent Nandakishore Park.

    The local table tennis association and boxing club were making enough food to feed as many as 500 people that evening, said Tandukar on Tuesday afternoon. They had set up their cooking and feeding operation at a small public recreational space alongside a road.

    "We're providing meals for people who are hungry here, who are not getting food," Tandukar says.

    As they did not have gas, they were using timber from a nearby historic building that had collapsed in the earthquake.

    When the earthquake struck Nepal, Tandukar, 50, was sleeping at home and his daughter came running into his room.

    "My daughter came and she told [me], 'Papa! Papa! The earthquake is coming.'" Their house withstood the shaking as they huddled under door frames.

    After the earthquake, he and his neighbours ran on to the street to check on each other. Two of his friends' homes had been destroyed. He found one of his friends, a musician, lying on top of his pregnant wife. 

    "My friend tried to save his baby… He covered [her] with his whole body so she was saved," Tandukar said with tears in his eyes. The woman and her child survived, but his friend died.

    "He sacrificed his life for his baby," he said.

    The couple was meant to be at the hospital at 12pm as the woman was about to give birth, but they had decided not to go that afternoon.

    Staying in the open

    On Tuesday, a group of men stood on top of the rubble that had been the musician's home, while one man stood on the ground, pulling out large pieces of debris with bare hands.

    At Nandakishore Park, makeshift tents had been pitched since Saturday, and women and children were mostly camped out there.

    Some had lost their homes, while others were still too scared to go home.

    Mahima Gachan, 19, was with her mother and sister. Their house was still standing, and their father was staying there and bringing them food.

    Sushil Lama, 29, had been in the park since Saturday with her three-year-old daughter and other family members. Her husband works in Dubai. "Everyone here is as communal as possible," she said.

    Nepalese teacher describes how the earthquake changed his life.

    People lay in blankets on tarpaulin, huddled with their families during the afternoon rain, and people dug small ditches around their tents. A woman knitted. Some had brought their pets.

    As the rain let up people milled about. Beneath one large tent a few musicians sang and played on their guitars to a group of Nepalese youths. One man made a stove with two bricks and lit a fire underneath to boil tea.

    Lasang Tamang, a 29-year-old software engineer, was with his friends handing out facemasks. "If we wait for the government, then nothing happens," he said. "It's small but whatever we can do from our end [we have to do]."

    Dr Nivedita Pradhan, 24, a dentist, was volunteering by running a small medical station.

    Prabal Thapa is the architect who designed the park. The land was once disputed property and became a dumping ground, but after a decade of fighting to turn it into a community green space that could also be a designated disaster relief site, the park was approved last year and completed a few months ago.

    He said this is the only public park with the mandate to be a green space and a refuge in the event of disaster to be created in the last couple of decades.

    A woman carries a baby outside a makeshift tent in the Nandakishore Park in central Kathmandu [Annette Ekin/AlJazeera]
    A woman stands outside a makeshift tent in the Nandakishore Park [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]
    A doctor in a makeshift clinic in the Nandakishore Park [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]
    Many people have been camping at the Nandakishore Park in Naxal neighbourhood [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera] 
    Policemen sit at the entrance of Nandakishore Park [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]
    Children playing in Nandakishore Park [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]
    Men walk through Nandakishore Park [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]
    Makeshift tents for residents of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]
    A woman in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu is being comforted after a powerful earthquake shook the city [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]
    Residents of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu have been camping at a park since the earthquake struck on April 25 [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]
    Residents of central Kathmandu listen to a man strumming on a guitar days after the earthquake [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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