An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 struck Nepal on Saturday 25th April 2015 at 11.41 am (local time), the worst in 81 years. A state of emergency was declared as over 7,000 fatalities were reported by the following Saturday. The epicentre of the earthquake was 2km below the ground. As a result of the shallow nature of the earthquake, the impacts have been devastating, toppling buildings, opening gaping cracks in roads and sending people rushing into the open as aftershocks rattled their damaged homes.
Where do major earthquakes happen and why? view here
Seismologists have expected a major earthquake in western Nepal, where pressure has been building from the grinding between tectonic plates — the northern Eurasia plate and the up-thrusting Indian plate.
The quake caused dozens of buildings in Kathmandu to collapse, including the historic Dharahara Tower. The city’s main hospital was overwhelmed by casualties and residents faced a nights on the streets with nowhere to go. Most of the Nepalese fatalities were from the Kathmandu Valley.
The earthquake caused avalanches on Mount Everest. An Indian army mountaineering team has found 18 bodies on Mount Everest.
The avalanche had buried part of the base camp and two tents had been filled with casualties.
Ministry officials estimated that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at base camp or on Everest when the earthquake struck.
At least 34 deaths occurred in northern India. Buildings swayed in Tibet and Bangladesh.
View a series of before and after slider images here
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. As a result, it is not best placed to deal with such a major natural disaster GNP per capita of Nepal is $730 (2013), whereas the GNP per capital of the UK is $41,680 (2013).
Political instability does little to boost Nepal’s resilience. “This earthquake is the nightmare scenario. The country has … suffered terrible conflicts, poor governance, and heart-wrenching poverty, all of which created and perpetuated the vulnerability which has been devastatingly exposed.” (Ian Kelman of the UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction).
The government had made some improvements in making some buildings more robust and reinforcing vulnerable ones, but many larger buildings, such as hospitals and older homes, remained extremely vulnerable. In addition, rapid urbanisation in cities like Kathmandu has meant that many homes have been built at a high density.
However, it appears that newer buildings fared better and withstood the quake, whereas the older buildings were worse affected. On the positive side, the earthquake struck on a Saturday, when schools were not in session, which may have reduced the death toll.
Offers of aid:
How inflatable hospitals are saving lives in Nepal
More details on the earthquake:
What are the challenges of disaster relief? Read about them here
Five facts that explain Nepal’s devastating earthquake here.
View INTERACTIVE MAP showing areas and population likely to be affected by future earthquakes in Nepal.
After four days, frustration evident in Nepal over pace of response to the disaster. Read and watch video report here
How crisis mapping is helping the relief effort.
After several weeks, attention turned to the longer term impacts, as questions were asked as to whether the economy of Nepal can recover from this major event. Read here
Images before and after – ArcGIS story maps show how things have changed.
CLICK HERE to view You Tube video playlist of reports from Nepal.
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