Kathmandu: Even as Nepal struggles to come to terms with its worst earthquake disaster in over eight decades, rescuers from around the world, including India, are scrambling to locate survivors and bring succour to the needy. Humanitarian efforts have poured in from all parts of the world, from the day the disaster struck the Himalayan nation, killing over 6,200 people. Nearly 14,000 people have been injured.
Capital city Kathmandu, otherwise filled with foreign tourists, is teeming with uniformed international rescuers, who battle against all odds, sifting through mountains of debris to look for survivors, still feared trapped beneath it, on the sixth day since the tragedy struck. A 7.9 Richter scale earthquake and succeeding aftershocks tore through Nepal last Saturday, leaving a trail of deaths and unimaginable devastation.
Besides neighbouring countries like India, China and Pakistan, helping the battered nation restore to normalcy, the US has sent in its team. Poland and several other nations have pitched in with special teams to save precious human lives. And, miraculous survivors, like a five-month-old baby or a teenage boy pulled out of the rubble only provide a glimmer of hope in this hour of darkness and stand testimony to the feats of human strength—physical and mental.
And as rescue workers held the little baby up in air, gloomy silence, momentarily gave way to loud cheers, as people acknowledged the Herculean efforts of these rescuers, many of whom have put their own lives at risk, besides, sweating day in and day out, only to beat death staring people in the face. Stories of miraculous survival became the defining images of the day.
Adding muscle to the humanitarian effort are relief workers from Geneva-based institutions International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF) providing the vital human link and compassionate touch amid chaos, pain and panic. “We are a team of 61 people from MSF. Our first cargo plane from France, containing four inflatable tents to construct field hospital, as well necessary medical supplies has already arrived.
“On Wednesday, a team was able to get more than 200 shelter kits to the village of Gumba in Gorkha district. Yesterday, further assessments were being carried out in hospitals in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur to evaluate the capacity for management of ‘crush syndrome',” a senior official of MSF India, told PTI here.
ICRC is supporting the Nepal Red Cross Society in their response to the mounting needs of families and affected communities in the country. It has also launched a website to trace missing families.
“Our efforts include restoring contact between family members separated by the earthquake, and providing critical first aid materials and support,” the ICRC said. The ICRC is also promoting proper and dignified management of dead bodies.
“To this end, we have provided 400 dead body bags to the Department of Forensics Medicine. In addition, seven sets of dressing modules have been provided to the hospitals to treat quake injured people,” the organisation said. Nepal's Army Chief yesterday feared that the death toll in the quake could be as high as 15,000.
NGOs and philanthropic institutions have poured in funds and relief materials in this difficult time for Nepal to help it cope with the tragedy of catastrophic proportions. Back in India, hundreds of volunteers from New Delhi to Bangalore have turned into foot soldiers to raise funds for the cause.
“We are a group of 500 students studying here in India. We feel devastated by the tragedy in our country. So, we are raising funds to buy relief materials to send it there, We have already sent the first batch of it and as soon as we are able to raise more money, we will send the second one too,” 20-year-old Prajwal Basnet told PTI in New Delhi.