Chaos mars Nepal quake relief operations

Thousands of evacuees in Kathmandu angry at government’s response as toll rises to more than 2,500 people.

Thousands of displaced residents in the Nepali capital have expressed anger towards the government, as they face food and water shortages, a day after a magnitude 7.8 quake hit the country and killed more than 2,500 people.

As rescuers continue to dig through the rubble on Sunday, the densely-populated capital Kathmandu faces a “chaotic situation” with hospitals running out of medical supply, and thousands of people, who are camped in open air areas, are left hungry and thirsty, according to Al Jazeera reporters on the ground. 

“A lot of people taking shelter outside in open spaces are without food or water,” Al Jazeera’s Subina Shrestha, who is in Kathmandu, said.

“People are very angry with the government for being left in the lurch.”

Al Jazeer’s Andrew Simmons, who is also reporting from Kathmandu, said “there’s a great worry about how people are going to get by”, with many instructure destroyed and the power out.

He also reported that the frequent aftershocks, including one at magnitude 6.7 on Sunday morning, have rattled the already jittery survivors.   

Kathmandu “is going through an absolute trauma of extraordinary proportions” following the worst disaster to hit the Himalayan nation in more than 80 years. At least 1,152 were reported killed in the capital. 

Nepal: A day after the disaster

Relief agencies have already warned that as many as six million people might be affected in Nepal by Saturday’s disaster.

Hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley, the quake-affected region with 2.5 million people, were overcrowded, running out of emergency supplies and space to store corpses, the UN said in a statement.

At overstretched hospitals, where medics were also treating patients in hastily erected tents, staff were forced to flee from buildings for fear of further collapses.

There was a little more order on Sunday as rescue teams fanned out across Kathmandu.

Al Jazeera’s Simmons also reported that rescuers and medical staff are also making their way to other parts of the country, but the congestion at the airport has slowed down their deployment.  

International aid groups and governments have sent emergency crews to reinforce those trying to find survivors in Kathmandu, and in rural areas cut off by blocked roads and patchy phone networks.

On Sunday, planeloads of supplies have begun to arrive in the capital, along with doctors and relief workers.

The Red Cross said it was concerned about the fate of rural villages close to the epicentre of the quake northwest of Kathmandu.


The number of casualties is expected to climb as reports come in from far-flung areas, Laxmi Dhakal, a home ministry official, said.

Among  the dead are 17 who were struck by an avalanche on Mount Everest that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts.

At least 5,000 people were injured across Nepal.

The quake destroyed expanses of the oldest neighbourhoods of Kathmandu, and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China’s region of Tibet and Pakistan.

 What caused the Nepal earthquake?

At least 50 people were killed in India mostly in eastern Bihar state.

Al Jazeera’s Maher Sattar, reporting from Dhaka, said at least three people were killed in Bangladesh, including one who was killed following a stampede arising from the quake.

Kathmandu’s historic nine-storey Dharahara tower, a major tourist attraction and a UNESCO-recognised historical monument, was among the buildings toppled by Saturday’s earthquake.

The disaster is likely to put a huge strain on the resources of this poor country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, relies heavily on tourism.

The world reacted quickly to the disaster, offering money, relief materials, equipment, expertise and rescue teams.

Among the first to move in was Nepal’s neighbour India, with which it has close political, cultural and religious ties.

Indian air force planes landed on Sunday with 43 tonnes of relief material, including tents and food, and nearly 200 rescuers, Vikas Swarup, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, said.

 The powerful quake also triggered an avalanche that swept across Everest Base Camp [ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP]
The powerful quake also triggered an avalanche that swept across Everest Base Camp [ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP]

Weather forecasters warned that rain was on the way, with dark clouds looming over Kathmandu that promised more misery for displaced survivors.

The US Geological Survey said the quake hit at 11:56am local time (06:11 GMT) on Saturday.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies