Quake survivors await aid amid essential shortages‘It’s unbearably cold outside and none of us had any sleep since Friday night,’ says a resident of Chiuritol in Jajarkot.
Hasta Bahadur KC of Chiuritol of ward 1 of Nalgad Municipality in Jajarkot is mourning the loss of his son, his daughter-in-law, and his four-year-old grandson. His son, Bhimsen BK, had come home for Dashain and had planned to return to India where he worked at construction sites after Tihar.
Bhimsen, his wife and son were among those killed in the Friday night earthquake with the epicentre at Jajarkot’s Ramidanda that jolted Nepal. The effect of the earthquake was also felt in parts of India.
At least 157 people have been killed and nearly 400 injured in the earthquake, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“My son was working in India as an excavator operator for the past five years. He was the sole bread earner of our family,” said the 50-year-old Hasta. “Only my wife and I remain. The two of us have been living under a tarpaulin tent since Friday midnight. We are yet to come to terms with our loss.”
According to Suresh BK, a local man of Chiuritol, 13 people lost their lives in the village while several others were injured in the earthquake. The survivors of the catastrophe cremated their deceased on Sunday.
At least 56 houses in the village were completely destroyed while 110 houses, although still standing, have become inhabitable, said Suresh.
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,” said Suresh. “It is unbearably cold outside and none of us have had any sleep since Friday night.”
The victims of the earthquake in Bheri Municipality, where several villages were affected, are also waiting for help and relief materials.
Chandra Prakash Gharti, mayor of Bheri Municipality, said that the local unit is collecting data to streamline relief distribution, which has caused delays in dispatching relief materials immediately to the affected villages.
“Preliminary assessment of the damage is now complete. We will start the distribution of relief materials in the affected areas on Monday with the help of security personnel,” said Gharti.
According to the District Administration Office, Jajarkot, the preliminary assessment puts the number of deceased in Jajarkot at 105 and the injured at 200. Around 3,650 houses were damaged with 905 houses completely destroyed. Around 200 houses in Nalgad Municipality, 344 houses in Bheri Municipality, 160 houses in Barekot Rural Municipality, 100 houses in Chhedagad Municipality, 95 houses in Kushe Rural Municipality, five house in Junichande Rural Municipality and one house in Shivalaya Rural Municipality were completely destroyed by the earthquake, the office said.
The earthquake victims are in need of immediate help and blame the government for delayed response even during emergencies.
Kalawati Singh, a local survivor in Chiuritol, said that after two nights out in the cold, the villagers have started to fall sick. “Elderly people and young children are falling ill. We don’t have warm clothes and have been spending our days and nights in the open field,” said Singh. “There are no doctors or any medical help here. We have food left for a maximum of two days. We hope more help will soon arrive.”
Suresh Sunar, chief district officer of Jajarkot, said that his office has been receiving relief materials such as food and clothes from various donor agencies which will reach the affected villages through the local units soon.
“The District Disaster Management Committee has informed that the relief materials will be handed over to the local units in the next few days,” said Sunar. “We didn’t want to cause delays in relief distribution, but we first had to collect data on the extent of damage to calculate the amount of relief materials to send to each affected area. This will ensure that all the affected people receive help. No one will be left out.”
The committee has already sent a truckload of relief materials to Nalgad Municipality, one of the most affected local units in Jajarkot, according to Sunar.
The survivors of the earthquake in Rukum West have also spent the past two days waiting for help from the authorities.
Karna Bahadur BK, a local of Aathbiskot Municipality ward 13 who lost his 27-year-old cousin on Friday night, said that managing tarpaulin, blankets and food for the surviving members of the family is proving difficult with each passing day. “I finally managed to find a tarpaulin tent for my family. There are limited resources here and people are struggling,” said Karna. “No help has arrived. People are starving, falling ill, and fighting for food. Children and the elderly are in failing health but help is nowhere close.”
In Rukum West, 2,136 houses were completely destroyed in the Friday night earthquake. According to the preliminary assessment of the District Administration Office, 2,642 were partially damaged while other 4,670 houses sustained minor damage in the disaster.
Chief District Officer of Rukum West Hari Prasad Panta said 52 died in the earthquake in the district while 27 critically injured people were taken to Kathmandu, Surkhet and Nepalgunj for treatment. “The preliminary data shows that properties worth more than Rs 2 billion were destroyed,” he said.
In Salyan, around 130 houses were destroyed in Darma and Kumakh rural municipalities. As in the other districts, the displaced people, who have lost their homes and possessions, await relief.
According to Neem Bahadur KC, chairman of Darma Rural Municipality, more than 100 houses were damaged in the earthquake on Friday. Detailed information on the damage is yet to be ascertained, said KC. “We have not been able to distribute any relief to the displaced people as relief materials we have ordered from Dang are yet to arrive.”
Rajendra Kumar Chand, the chief administrative officer of Kumakh Rural Municipality, said that more than 30 houses were destroyed in the earthquake. “We have also not been able to distribute relief materials to the earthquake survivors as we are also waiting for the materials to arrive from Dang,” he said.
Bahadur Damai, a 30-year-old man from Lirapaja village in Darma-2, has been living under a tarpaulin tent in an open field near his house with his family of five.
“We lost our food grain, edibles, clothes and everything else,” said Damai. “Help is yet to reach our village.”
Ganga BC contributed reporting from Rukum West.