Culture & Lifestyle / Nepal: A Target For Disaster

Nepal: A Target For Disaster

Culture & Lifestyle Apr 27, 2015


Nepal’s Earthquake Was Expected

Warnings from expert geologists proved warranted for Kathmandu (the Nepalese capital) and its surrounding region when a devastating earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude hit on Saturday, April 25, 2015.

Experts had place Kathmandu high on the list of cities most vulnerable to a devastating earthquake.

According to CNN, this earthquake marks the worst natural disaster in more than 80 years. Homes as well as historic structures such as temples were affected.

Nepalese Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson Laxmi Dhakal announced Monday morning the number of confirmed deaths in Nepal as 3,218, with India counting 56 deaths among its citizens and China counting 20 but according to AP the latest toll results have surpassed 4,000. 

Due to the series of aftershocks as well as the vast countryside, much of which remains to be searched, the death toll is expected to rise.

The people of Nepal, who are currently in survival mode, are surrounded by immense rubble, their homes and livelihoods destroyed. As international relief efforts are in full swing, we wonder if this huge tragedy could have been avoided.

The "big one," as experts call it, had been expected. The prediction was based on the country’s history and geology. A country with a fragile infrastructure, highly populated and no stranger to frequent tremors each year, Nepal was a recipe for an earthquake disaster. As experts state, it wasn't a question of “if” but of “when.”

The 2013 USAID article "Implementing Building Codes to Save Lives" outlines the problem perfectly: "Based on an estimated current population of three million inhabitants in Kathmandu, experts believe that a large earthquake would result in at least 100,000 deaths, 300,000 injuries, and 1.6 million displaced in the capital city alone."

According to MSN, the Indian Plate has been sliding, and due to this issue, a Tibetan plateau formed with mountains reaching close to 30,000 feet above sea level. The Himalayas —  a mountain range in South Asia that separates the Indo-Gangetic Plain from the Tibetan Plateau — are said to face up to 8.2-magnitude earthquakes, just like the one recorded in 1934.

Roger Bilham, a world-renowned expert on Himalayan earthquakes, has stated, “The earthquake ruptured under the city, very close to the city, so this is as bad as our worst-case scenario, probably.” 

Even though the government and engineers have been working to make schools and hospitals more structurally sound, the major problem of civil disorder has caused a surge in migration to urban areas such as the Kathmandu Valley, where buildings aren’t strong enough to withstand severe quakes and tremors. The problem is the unregulated construction close to a geologically volatile urban hub.  

India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, chaired a follow-up meeting to review the situation following the earthquake in Nepal. Modi emphasized the need for speedier rescue operations and evacuation for stranded people, placing the highest priority on food and water supplies to the affected areas.
If you’d like to contribute to the relief efforts, visit The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Our prayers go out to the families affected by the disaster.
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