A deadly earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, 2015, killing thousands, wrecking iconic historical monuments, destroying roads and infrastructures, squashing schools and hospital and ruining lives of the survivors, who are mostly homeless and reside in makeshift tents or shaky houses.
As many as 4,98,697 households were entirely destroyed, and another 2,56,617 partially destroyed, when the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on April 25 last year. As much as $4.1 billion was pledged, and about $2 billion has been received by Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).
As Nepal tries to get back on its feet after the devastating earthquake, that left around 9,000 people dead in the Himalayan country, we look back how the disaster struck the country, the rescue operations that followed and the horrific and some happy life-changing experiences.
Here are some of the stories reported by Indian Express journalists last year from ground zero.
It happened within seconds. I was at the Swayambhunath complex in Kathmandu on Saturday morning, ready to click a photo when the ground beneath me started shaking. For the next 15 seconds, I saw chunks of the ancient religious structure crumble and fall around me. Brick-laid houses nearby, antique-selling shops, smaller temples, they all fell, as if to a tragic symphony.
I didn’t know whether to run or hide. I realised that if I took shelter beneath a house, it would fall over me because so many of them were so old. (Read more here)
At Kathmandu’s 5th century Pashupatinath Temple, the bodies have been arriving for cremation since Saturday, when the first earthquake struck.
On the left of the main entrance, a huge crowd mourns the deaths of their loved ones. Further ahead, as the steps lead to the Bagmati River, the air is thick with smoke and ash from the 15-odd funeral pyres. On the right, there are about a dozen concrete blocks, where the bodies are being cremated. Some bodies are surrounded by relatives, others remain unidentified, cremated without a name. (Read more here)
After a week of the deadly earthquake, Nepal’s challenges are many. Among them, checking its uncontrolled urban sprawl and getting tourism back on its feet.
This is a catastrophe which has and will affect all in Nepal, small and big. For some, it is both personal and physical loss but for many it is going to be a hard-to-surmount economic loss. This situation has the potential to shake up the basic foundation of the country both social and economic, if not handled properly.” (Read more here)
We took the road from Kathmandu, among the worst-hit in the April 25 Nepal quake, to Lamjung, the place where it began. Along the 80-km route, we found a population grieving its losses and trying to move away as far and as fast as possible.
The road out of Kathmandu begins in Kalimati. At 10 in the morning, as bus after bus pulls into the busy thoroughfare, there is a mad rush — some jostle to get on, a few scramble on to roof-tops and others check for routes and destinations. Amid the exhaust smoke, honking and flaring tempers, people line up on a footpath, waiting for the buses to take them out — out of the city where they lived and worked to build their dreams, till it all came crashing down in a heap of concrete and dust a week ago. (Read more here)
Around 10 km south of Kathmandu, Khokana village in Lalitpur district sat above a hill like a time capsule with its age-old traditions, rituals and buildings around a 12th century temple — that was until the earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. Now, like several heritage sites, the village, known as the “living museum”, is just another pile of crumbled heritage. (Read more here)
For five days, Gautam Prajapati, 50, waited near the debris of his house under which his mother, wife and daughter were buried, hoping that rescue teams would be able to retrieve the bodies.
When the earthquake struck on Saturday, Prajapati and his son were buried under their three-storey house in Balaju, one of the worst affected residential areas of Kathmandu, but managed to escape with minor injuries. However, his mother, 77, wife, 50 and daughter, 30, remained trapped under the rubble. (Read more here)
The Rasaili family sits outside their crumbled home in Nayapati under Gokarneshwar municipality — about 10 km from Kathmandu district headquarters — surrounded by an old red sofa, wooden chairs and a pile of planks and bricks that were once their home.
Nayapati is home to small-time blacksmiths and the houses are mostly old and made of sand, bricks, and wooden planks. (Read more here)
“We have heard that the Modi sarkar has helped our government. But, we wonder would the help filter down to this Dalit basti of cobblers,” says Nakul Roka, a resident of Sarki Tola in Nankhel village atop hills under Bhaktapur. Though only one person died in this village due to the Saturday’s earthquake, most stone and brick structures here have developed cracks beyond repair. (Read more here)
The first international response and assurance to the Nepalese people came from the Indian Prime Minister who spoke to the political leaders of the devastated nation and promptly dispatched a strong contingent of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as an Indian search-and-rescue force.
The NDRF, perhaps the only force completely dedicated to disaster response, expanded its search to the southern part of the capital and its suburbs after having searched 24 locations in the northern, northwestern and northeastern areas of Kathmandu. (Read more here)
For these seven families who lost a member each to the twin earthquakes in Nepal, it is the little belongings they left behind that keep the memories alive. (Read more here)
Charikot’s Buildings tell a story. The rubble that once held the Sooriya Development Bank was once three floors; but now there are none. Outside lie papers from the banks’ administrative section. The cover of a register lies torn off. “Sooriya Bank Leave Register” it says. The bank was next to a barber shop, but the wall between the two has come down. (Read more here)
Marium (27) hit her head against a wall during Saturday’s earthquake. She has now taken shelter in Tudikhel park with hundreds of displaced families. Her family is one of the over 200 families of goldsmiths from West Bengal living in tents on the open ground. She has kept her bags packed, and wants to go back to West Bengal as soon as she can find transport.
Marium’s family is from Midnapore. It is estimated that over 20,000 goldsmiths from West Bengal — mostly belonging to Midnapore — work in Kathmandu. Most families have been here for years, returning to India once or twice every year. (Read more here)
As the largest private orphanage in Nepal, Bal Mandir was home to over a hundred children. But when the earthquake struck on April 25, a wall of the 83-year-old building collapsed, leaving the children homeless once again. The building has now been cordoned off.
The younger children have been shifted temporarily to a government building nearby. The others have been taken to a government-run orphanage in Siphal. (Read more here)
When Vanashree Mirajkar saw her 13-year-old daughter Sharayu wheeling out her luggage at the Pune airport on Wednesday evening, she burst into tears. She had been holding on to them for the past four days.
Her daughter was a part of a 12-member group led by Giripremi’s Umesh Zirpe that included schoolstudents. The trekkers returned to Pune after a harrowing four days in quake-hit Nepal where they had gone on an expedition to the Everest base camp. (Read more here)