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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Nepal Earthquake: After death, it’s disease; epidemic fear in camps

Search teams say it is not easy getting to the bodies because they are probably deep inside, beneath layers of flattened buildings.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire , Rakesh Sinha | Kathmandu | Updated: April 30, 2015 7:42:57 am
Nepal, Nepal earthquake, Nepal earthquake death toll, Nepal quake Nepalese people prepare to go back home after sleeping on open grounds for four nights to be safe from earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. Thousands of people are lining up at bus stations in Kathmandu where the government is providing free transportation for people hoping to travel to their hometowns and villages. The government has even deployed school buses to supplement the overstretched service. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

In the early hours of Wednesday at Tundikhel, in the heart of Kathmandu, women form a circle and shout at the men to stay away. One of them is in the centre, defecating in the open.

Read: Nepal quake victims vent their anger during PM Koirala’s visit; toll tops 6,000

A terrible stench rises from the grounds, one of the 16 designated open camps after the weekend quakes sent fearful Kathmandu outdoors.

With day temperatures rising, temporary toilets in a mess and little or no water supply, conditions at the camps are deteriorating rapidly, prompting health warnings on disease outbreaks post-disaster.

Doctors in city hospitals have begun receiving complaints of diarrhoea and skin allergies. In Bhaktapur, east of Kathmandu, suspected cases of gastroenteritis have surfaced and doctors say an outbreak of water-borne diseases in such a situation is not unusual.

Read: Flood of help in Nepal, but it is barely trickling down

Making matters worse are the bodies trapped in the debris of toppled buildings. There is no clarity on how many could be there and this has set off alarm bells.

Read: IMA to send 13 doctors to Nepal

An official of the Ministry of Health and Population said the trapped bodies and dead cattle pose a serious health hazard and work has been stepped up to retrieve and dispose them.

Read: Nepal PM Koirala requests citizens to donate blood

But search teams say it is not easy getting to the bodies because they are probably deep inside, beneath layers of flattened buildings. India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) alone has pulled out 85 bodies so far.

A doctor at the Bir Hospital, the city’s largest, said inadequate sanitary conditions, contaminated water and lack of specialists in hospitals posed “imminent danger” to a population still counting its dead.

Bracing for an outbreak-like situation, officials at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital have kept a medical team on alert and readied a plan to handle at least 500 cases.

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