A few days after the earthquake which had left a trail of death and destruction in the Himalayan country, most of its citizens are yet to come to terms with the tragedy. Many are still spending their time in open spaces or roads braving heavy rain and winds which followed the quake. In the 30-km stretch from Kathmandu to Narayanghat (under Dhadling, one of the worst-affected districts) one can see only images of exodus with people moving to safer places.
On Tuesday afternoon, six persons were killed and 10 injured when a landslide buried a bus between Mungling and Narayanghat.
Deepak Thapa, Ram Bahadur Mahat and their over-a-dozen friends, doing petty jobs in Kathmandu, climbed on to the rooftop of a bus heading towards Nepalganj. Most of the roads are blocked. Suddenly they get the news of landslide along Narayanghat route. Panic further grips them. “We could find this bus with great difficulty. We want to reach our home safely. Jobs and Kathmandu are not in our minds at all.
Nepalganj is a much safer place. We will sleep in open spaces and be with family.” They had not eaten for four days at Kathmandu. They got down at Mungling where they got some rice and daal. “Food has given us some warmth in belly. I do not know if there is landslide in our routes too”, said Ram Bahadur, Deepak’s friend. Buses are heading towards Nepalganj, Dhangalli, Mahendra Nagar, Virat Nagar and Birgunj. A lot of people from Bihar would reach Raxual to return to other districts.
A group from East Champaran could get only a small pick-up van to move out of Kathmandu. They have covered the open van with plastic sheets to escape winds and rains. “We didn’t get any help. We have hired this pick-up van for Rs 15,000. There is no point living in Kathmandu where several buildings have cracked. I will look for a job in Bihar now,” said Ramesh Jha, who works at a watch unit in Kathmandu.
Some travellers take a break at Narayanghat to mentally recover from the shock of “seeing landslide live”. “Even a small stone can make a vehicle lose its control and fall into Narayani river. This is like second survival”, said Amrendra Mishra, a journalist from Motihari. The Indian Express team that escaped a boulder by a few inches, could not agree more. It is an emotional moment for fellow travellers, who are thinking of family back home. There is hardly any communication for days. “I have promised my daughter to take her for picnic on return”, said a traveller, rushing to take his bus. Raj Kumar Silwal, who is selling fried river fish, said: “Business has just come to a halt. People are rushing back but we will have to stay here and hope for tourists’ return”.
It is only after Narayanghat that one could see some ray of hope. A series of empty buses from Indian government are heading towards Nepal to bring stranded people.