127 Hours Since the M7.8 Earthquake Hit Nepal (Feat. James Franco)

It’s been more than 5 days since the powerful earthquake shook Nepal and brought the world’s attention to the Himalayan country.

The Facts: “Give it to me straight, doc!”

  1. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 11:56AM local time on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
  2. The human toll as of April 30 is 6,130 dead and 13,827 injured.
  3. The epicenter was at 28.147, 84.708. That’s 80 kms (or 50 miles) away from Kathmandu.
  4. The earthquake was felt in 5 countries: Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China.
  5. The earthquake claimed the lives of 4 American citizens as well, including Google Executive, David Fredinburg.
  6. Today, approximately 127 hours after the earthquake hit, a teenage boy was rescued out of the rubble in Kathmandu. He’s alive.
  7. Many countries have pledged their support and have delivered at breathtaking speed.
  8. You’re probably thinking. “I’m not in Nepal, I’m in Minneapolis or Tokyo or Baghdad, what can I do to help out?

Notes from Kathmandu

Who’s that guy standing next to Seth Rogen?
  1. Nepal has experienced a serious natural disaster. It’s not the apocalypse. This little country in the Himalayas will get back up and move forward. The capital city, Kathmandu, has already started inching towards normalcy.
  2. The infrastructure in Kathmandu is in surprisingly good shape for a M7.8 earthquake. The airport is open and the runways are not damaged. The roads and bridges in Kathmandu are all functional. The vast majority of buildings (residential and commercial) are standing, although they will each need to be checked for structural integrity by architects.
  3. Today I witnessed more cars, cabs and buses on the roads in Kathmandu, than the previous 5 days combined. That’s a very good sign for the city. That’s also true for open grocery stores across the city.
  4. Since Wednesday, some schools and offices have reopened too.
  5. Policemen were driving around the city on motorcycles with megaphones requesting shopkeepers to open up their shops, and not inflate their prices.
  6. Tuesday was a rainy day, but Wednesday and Thursday have been partially cloudy and cool, which is perfect for search and rescue missions.
  7. Most of the ‘search and rescue’ and cleaning operations in Kathmandu are led by locals in the community, with help from police and army.
  8. The Nepal government declared 3 days of mourning after the earthquake, and unsurprisingly has largely been absent. There is growing distrust among Nepalis that the government will manage the aid flowing to the country with competence.
  9. Some UNESCO World Heritage sights are completely destroyed. It’s a huge loss to Nepal and humanity.

Good News

Living the Vida Loca.
  1. Kathmandu is in unexpectedly good shape for a 7.8 earthquake.
  2. It was a Saturday, so children weren’t in the school buildings that collapsed.
  3. I’m grateful that the earthquake happened at 11:57am, and not 11:57pm. The death toll would have likely been much higher, and it would have been impossible to coordinate immediate Search and Rescue missions, especially in the mass confusion and hysteria at night.
  4. India dispatched it’s Army to help Nepal within hours of the earthquake. Members of the Armed Forces and volunteer organizations from other countries, like USA, China, South Africa, and France are visible in Kathmandu and surrounding towns everyday.
  5. People who were camped out in Tundikhel Park and Ratna Park in the heart of Kathmandu started returning to their homes on Tuesday, and now there are far fewer tents there. After speaking with many families there, I learned that they were living in tents in the open because they were afraid of aftershocks, and not because their homes in the city had been destroyed. It was precautionary and fear, not desperation and homelessness.

Short-term challenges and Next Steps

  1. There are thousands of small towns and villages across Nepal. Many of those places have yet to see any aid or arrival of ‘Search and Rescue’ teams. This is critically important.
  2. Kathmandu and surrounding towns have sufficient access to water and food for about 2 weeks or more. These places have more nuanced needs like hand sanitizers, water tanks, generators for electricity, toilet paper, wet tissue paper, etc.
  3. Kathmandu can manage for now. We desperately need resources to be sent (or redirected) outside Kathmandu valley to remote regions via helicopter or drones (um, i mean, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). They need tents, plastic tarps, drinking water, food, clothes, and basically everything to survive. The infrastructure in these towns/villages was not designed to sustain the blow of a M7.8 earthquake.

POV of avalanche on Mount Everest caused by this earthquake!

If you enjoyed reading this article, you should follow me on Twitter at @amrit_sharma.

P.S. James Franco, please don’t sue me for this article. Thanks!

Oh hey! You’re still reading this.

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P.S. Today’s Nepali Song of the Day is Resham by Nepathya. Click to play!

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