Cold taking its toll on quake-displaced in KarnaliChildren, new mothers, elderly people and patients of chronic illnesses are the hardest hit. Five displaced persons died in Jajarkot over past eight days.
It’s already November third week. Winter is setting in causing lots of hardships to the people. The earthquake-displaced people languishing under flimsy tarpaulin tents are among the hardest hit by the biting cold in various districts of the Karnali Province.
Three of the displaced, all above 70 years of age, died of cold-related issues in Jajarkot district over the past three days. Two others died in Nalgad Municipality on Thursday and Friday.
Narendra Bahadur Singh, 79, of ward 4 of Barekot Rural Municipality and Dume Pun, 70, of ward 1 of Barekot died on Friday. Similarly, Dhuleshwar Karki, aged 88, of ward 2 of Bheri Municipality died on Wednesday.
“All three deceased were chronic patients of asthma. Their health conditions were found to have worsened due to cold in the tents,” said Rohit Mishra, a doctor at the basic hospital in Barekot. According to him, the quake victims are suffering from various health problems like common cold, fever, diarrhoea and pneumonia. “Around 150 patients visit the basic hospital on a daily basis. The patients of chronic diseases are hugely affected,” said Mishra. According to him, many patients with chronic illnesses could not continue their medication as the medicines were buried in the earthquake debris.
Two people—Gopal Bahadur Rawal, 84, and Pampha Rawal, 48–-died due to cold in Nalgad Municipality of Jajarkot last week. “A tarpaulin tent and a blanket have been distributed per displaced family. They are not enough for the quake victims to keep themselves warm in the winter. Many quake-displaced people are taken ill now,” said Dambar Bahadur Rawat, mayor of Nalgad Municipality.
In Salyan, the five-member family of Tek Bahadur KC of Liredanda in ward 2 of Darma Rural Municipality has been taking shelter under a tarpaulin tent ever since the magnitude 6.4 earthquake with its epicentre in Jajarkot destroyed his stone-and-mud house on November 5. His three children are suffering from pneumonia, apparently caused by cold, and his wife Sita complains of fever and common cold.
Pushpa KC, an earthquake-displaced person from Bhalukhola in ward 5 of Darma, is in her postpartum period. She has been suffering from a headache and swelling of her body over the past three days. Her three-month-old baby now has a terrible cough.
“The quake damaged our house. We have been living in the tarpaulin tent. It is increasingly cold in the area. Dew runs down the tent. We have to keep ourselves warm by making fire,” said Pushpa, complaining that the earthquake victims are in inexpressible hardships and difficulties.
At least one or more members of almost all the earthquake-displaced families in Jajarkot, Rukum (West) and Salyan districts are taken ill due to cold. The children, postpartum mothers, elderly people and the patients of chronic diseases are hugely affected.
“Around 400 postpartum mothers and their newborns have been affected by the earthquake in Darma Rural Municipality alone. Among them almost all the new mothers are suffering from fever while their children are ill with pneumonia,” said Yagya Bahadur Basnet, the health unit chief of Darma Rural Municipality. “More than 70 children were taken to the various health institutions in the local unit for the past three days and most of them were found suffering from pneumonia,” said Basnet, stating that cold conditions under the tents caused various cold-related diseases like common cold, pneumonia and fever.
As per the data available at the district natural disaster management committee in Salyan, 200 houses were completely destroyed while 990 other houses sustained partial damage in the disaster. A total of 2,400 people have been displaced in Darma alone. Almost all the victims are still languishing under the tarpaulin tents, exposing themselves to the cold-related diseases.
Earthquake victims in Rukum West share a similar ordeal. The displaced people have a tough time protecting their children and senior citizens from the winter chill. Athbiskot Municipality and Sanibheri Rural Municipality are the most affected local units in the district. The victims are still living under tents as the authorities concerned have yet to take initiatives to construct temporary shelters for the displaced families.
“The displaced people living under the tents have started complaining about various health problems. They are suffering from common cold and pneumonia due to the winter cold,” said Prem Prakash Rokaya, health unit chief of Athbiskot Municipality. According to him, 22 people including seven under the age of five years, visited a health post at Athbiskot on Thursday.
A total of 9,468 families have been displaced by the earthquake in Rukum West. The victims are still deprived of warm clothes and blankets.
Abiskar Dharala, a doctor at the district hospital, warned that the health condition of the children, senior citizens, pregnant and postpartum mothers and patients of chronic diseases could be quite challenging due to the cold among the earthquake displaced people.