aNewDomain — It has been more than 24 hours since a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 hit Nepal. Its epicenter was near Lamjung, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Kathmandu between the capital and Pokhara, the launch point for many treks into the Annapurna area.
A major aftershock measuring 6.9 hit the Kathmandu area today, Sunday, April 26. Local residents are spending the night outdoors once again. The highways remain open as well as the airport.
Kathmandu sits in a valley sheltered from wind and snow in the middle Himalayas. At 4,000 feet, the climate is temperate. When the earthquake hit on Saturday morning close to noon, most people were enjoying the weekend holiday. Many businesses still observe the one day weekend on Saturday.
The earthquake, according to eyewitnesses, lasted for more than 30 seconds, the shock waves lashing and rocking land and buildings alike. As everything rocked for a horrifying length of time, old buildings collapsed. These included ancient structures in the Durbar Square in Basantapur in old Kathmandu.
Durbar Square at Basantapur in old Kathmandu
The Dharahara Tower (or Bhimsen Tower) fell from nine stories to become a pile of rubble. My brother William Ma reports that dozens of people were killed in the Tower.
Bhimsen Tower/Dharahara Tower before it fell on April 24, 2015
The devastation to residents and ancient buildings in the city is most visible since before-and-after pictures of the Durbar Square and Dharahara tower came out on media outlets, such as The Atlantic.
For the residents in Kathmandu, it was a “terrifying experience where the ground liquefied.” People trying to come down stairs were thrown against walls in the duration of the earthquake.
At the time of this writing utilities are stretched thin, but electricity has been restored.
There are also reports that the road to Dhulikhel has been affected, and the mountain resort is currently cut off. Dhulikhel is an old trading post that linked Nepal for centuries to Tibet. What used to be a day’s journey with the motorable road, Dhulikhel has become a day trip from just Kathmandu.
The airport remains open, and aid from India, the U.S. and many other countries is coming in.
My brother spoke to an acquaintance in the mountains who described watching “the mountain turning.”
In conversations with residents in Kathmandu, many people slept in the open through a nerve-racking night punctuated with ceaseless aftershocks both minor and major. Some put the number on Sunday morning at around 27 aftershocks.
The quake was felt in Kolkatta, Delhi and Bhutan.
At Everest Base Camp, the quake triggered a series of avalanches resulting in deaths and injuries.
How to help
At the time of this writing, more than 1,800 people are reported dead with thousands more injured. Here’s a list of charities from Mashable that have already mobilized aid and supplies to the stricken areas in Nepal.
If there’s one reality that is comforting, it is the access through technology. Facebook activated Safety Check, which allows people to report their safety if they were in the area of the earthquake.
Google’s People Finder is another critical tool for people and their loved ones who are looking for news of friends and family.
Twitter’s #nepalearthquake has a steady stream of news, reports and images.
A tweet by journalist Kunda Dixit:
— Kunda Dixit (@kundadixit) April 26, 2015
For aNewDomain, I’m Joy Ma.
First image: Basantapur. Wikimedia Commons
Second image: Bhimsen Tower/Dharahara Tower. Wikimedia Commons
Featured image: Kathmandu Valley by *saipal via Flickr