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A Publication
on The Status of
Adivasi Populations
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We Are Hungry Not Even Drinking Water Is Available:
People Protest In Nepal As Death Toll Mounts

By Countercurrents.org

29 April 2015

The Nepal earthquake death toll is rising sharply. By afternoon of April 29, 2015, the death toll crossed 5,000. At the same time the threat of epidemic including cholera, scarcity of safe drinking water and slow speed of relief and rescue work are putting people on the verge of protest, In Kathmandu, people have protested against slow government relief efforts. People are telling: We are hungry, not even drinking water is there. The devastating picture of the earthquake has started emerging from the interior of the country.

Desperate Nepalis clashed with riot police and seized supplies of bottled water in the capital Wednesday as anger boiled over among survivors of the earthquake.

Media reports said:

About 200 people have blocked traffic in Kathmandu to protest the slow pace of aid delivery. The protesters faced off with police and there were minor scuffles but no arrests were made. One protester says they haven’t received any relief.

“We are hungry; we haven’t had anything to drink. We haven’t been able to sleep. I have a 7-year-old child who is sleeping in the open. It’s getting cold and people are getting pneumonia,” said a Nepali citizen.

He accused the government of not doing enough.

Earlier, riot police were deployed to the streets of Kathmandu to contain anger among survivors.

Supplies are running thin and aftershocks have strained nerves in the ruined city of 2.5 million before it was shattered. Desperate to leave, thousands of people began gathering from before dawn outside the main bus station after the government promised to lay on special services.

Desperate to leave Kathmandu, thousands of people began gathering from before dawn outside the main bus station after the government promised to lay on special services to far-flung rural areas.

But when the buses failed to materialize, anger began surging and scuffles broke out between the crowds and the columns of riot police who were sent in to try to contain the situation near parliament.

“We have been waiting since dawn. They told us that there would be 250 buses coming but we haven’t seen any of them,” said Kishor Kavre, a 25-year-old student.

There have been more scuffles this time over water.

Some protesters forced a truck carrying drinking water off the road and climbed on top of it, throwing the bottles into the crowd.

Columns of riot police stood behind rolls of barbed wire as rioters armed with sticks surged into the street, attacking buses and other vehicles.

At one point a young woman was pulled from her scooter and assaulted by an angry protester. Onlookers screamed at him to stop before riot police pulled him away.

The government acknowledged it had been overwhelmed by the devastation.

“There have been some weaknesses in managing the relief operation,” Communications Minister Minendra Rijal told Nepal’s Kantipur Television.

“The disaster has been so huge and unprecedented that we have not been in a position to meet the expectations of the needy people. But we are ready to accept our weakness, learn and move ahead in the best way possible.”

A woman in Bhaktapur, east of Kathmandu, said her community had had no food, medicine or emergency relief. “We want the relief, but our government is not helping us,” she said.

The village of Barkobot, in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk district, is just an hour and a half from Kathmandu, but it may as well be on the other side of the country. Every home in the village has been touched by the quake, yet locals say they have not received any government aid. At night, thieves are a constant threat, and villagers say they have barely slept since Saturday’s quake

Aid is begging to reach remote district for the first time, humanitarian agencies claim.
But it will still take time for the food and other supplies to reach survivors in remote communities who have been cut off by landslides, warned said Geoff Pinnock, a World Food Programme emergencies officer.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Pinnock told from the village of Majuwa, 20kms downhill from Gorkha town, a staging area for relief efforts to areas worst-hit.

Nearby, five cargo trucks filled with rice, cooking oil and sugar stood on a grassy field fringed with banana and acacia trees beneath the soaring Himalayas, waiting for a helicopter carry the supplies to remote, quake-hit villages.

Posters and concerns

Already handwritten posters alerting precautions about cholera have begun appearing on the walls of Kathmandu. These are warnings for the survivors of the deadly earthquake. The concerns and the risks real. Fears of disease have prompted many in Nepal to wear face masks.

“We have heard that swine flu might hit us,” said Niraj Paneru 20, from Gorkha District in the western Nepal. “We have to be prepared to defy disease.”

Chemist Rajendra Bajracharya said he had sold out of many bundles of masks.

“We are running out of masks as people are thronging my store for more masks,” he said. He added: “medicines for diarrhea, cough and cold and fever are almost finished”.

Bajracharya thinks some people are stockpiling the medicines for fear diseases spreading in the coming days.

Kumar Thapa head of the Alka Hospital said: “I suspect an epidemic outbreak will be the next big challenge to tackle.”

The head of a department under Department of Health Baburam Marasini says the authorities “cannot ignore the possible outbreak of disease”.

Even in the best of times, the medical infrastructure in Nepal—one of poorest countries in the world—is scarcely enough to keep up with the demands of its population.

“The risk is high given that a cholera epidemic is ongoing,” said G. Balakrish Nair, executive director of Translational Health Science and Technology Institute in Gurgaon. “And the monsoons are coming.”

“If people stay in the camps for a longer time we will have a crisis of sanitation,” UNICEF’s chief water, sanitation, and hygiene coordinator in Kathmandu, Anu Gautam, told.

In some relief camps, emergency toilets are overflowing with human faeces, which were exposed to the elements, even as drainage systems in other parts of Kathmandu had been damaged and destroyed by the earthquake.

“It’s a race against time to prevent a secondary public heath emergency,” international aid agency Oxfam told.

Dimming hopes

The hope of finding more survivors from the rubble appears to be dimming.

Nepal has told foreign search and rescue teams not to come because there are already enough on the ground.

There are at least 37 separate search teams made up of more than 500 specialists and their sniffer dogs.

Resident coordinator for Nepal Jamie McGoldrick said the government had decided it had enough foreign experts in and around the capital Kathmandu.

“They feel they have enough capacity to deal with the immediate needs in search and rescue,” he told.

Kathmandu’s tiny single-runway airport has struggled to accommodate the huge rush of flights bringing in aid and foreign experts.

More bad news may be coming

Geologists fear more bad news to come as information filters in from the surrounding mountainous countryside which has been cut off from the world by the disaster.

Landslides are certain to have blocked roads and rivers, caused flooding, and may have tumbled entire communities off mountainsides.

The mountains north of Kathmandu are heavily populated, with terraced fields and villages on very steep, landslide-prone slopes.

How Well Can We Predict Earthquakes?

Earthquake predictions are based on the movement of the earth's plates and fault zones.

"The impact of the earthquake in these regions is going to be dreadful," Petley wrote in his blog on Sunday, in which he also detailed some estimates other researchers have done to quickly assess the landslide.

He also points out that there has been a lot of confusion about the area affected by the main magnitude 7.8 event. When the U.S. Geological Survey posted its initial maps of Saturday's earthquake, it featured something rarely seen: a smudge of scarlet indicating the highest, most violent shaking on their scale.

If that was not awful enough, the smudge had swallowed up Nepal's capital, Kathmandu. But the map also had a star indicating that the epicenter of the quake was 50 miles (80 km) to the west of Kathmandu and far from the red smudge. So why was the worst shaking in and around the city?

The answer lies partly in how the Earth ruptured to make the quake. In this case the epicenter on the map marks where the rupture started, explained geologist and Himalaya researcher Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado. From there the rupture unzipped eastward for 75 miles – right under Kathmandu and beyond.

The Big One: Could a Warning Help?

The fault that this happened along is a lot like those that have created historic mega-quakes in Sumatra, Japan, Chile and Alaska. All are subduction zones, where one plate in Earth's crust is being forced under another. This makes for faults – or "detachments" as they are called – that allow blocks of crust and wedges of material to slide atop one another.

But unlike in those other major big-quake makers, the actual Himalaya collision zone is not deep underwater. "It is inhabited by millions of people," said Bilham. "Nearly everyone in Nepal lives 5 to 10 km from the detachment."

Said another way, all Nepalis live right on top of the detachment, which is deeper in some places than others. That's also why aftershocks are still happening throughout the long rupture zone, including a magnitude 6.6 quake to the east of Kathmandu on Sunday – on the far eastern end of the rupture.


Nepal Earthquake








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