The ground shook on Saturday in the South Asian country of Nepal when the region was hit by a massive earthquake. The quake registered 7.8 on the Richter scale, a 10-point system developed to measure the magnitude, or force, of earthquakes. It was the largest earthquake to strike Nepal since 1934.
While the epicenter of the earthquake was located 50 miles northwest of Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu, it was Kathmandu that suffered significant damage. In much of the countryside, it was worse. The earthquake caused buildings to collapse and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain. It was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China’s region of Tibet, and Pakistan.
“There are people who are not getting food and shelter,” said Udav Prashad Timalsina, a top official in Nepal. “I’ve had reports of villages where 70 percent of the houses have been destroyed.”
So far, more than 4,000 people are known to have lost their lives. About 7,180 people were injured by the quake, police said.
More than a dozen countries and many charity groups are sending aid to Nepal to assist in the recovery. Teams from the United States, China, India, and other countries have traveled to Nepal to help the government with search-and-rescue efforts.
“We have 90 percent of the army out there working on search and rescue,” said Jagdish Pokhrel, the Nepalese army spokesman. “We are focusing our efforts on that, on saving lives.
However, many of the affected villages are not easy to reach, as landslides have blocked roads. Another problem is aftershocks. Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that happen after a larger earthquake. They can often cause additional damage.
Nepal’s rescue coordinator Lila Mani Poudyal says aftershocks are delaying rescue crews.
“There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult,” he said. “Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them.”
Aftershocks have also been a concern for Nepali citizens. Many have refused to return to their homes. Afraid that buildings might collapse, many people are sleeping in tents outside.
In a country crippled by this natural disaster, Poudyal is calling for more help from the international community.
“We are appealing for tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses, and 80 different medicines that the health department is seeking that we desperately need now,” he said.
Note: To find out how you can help people affected by the earthquake in Nepal, ask your parents or teacher to visit the websites of the American Red Cross and Oxfam America.