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Nepal quake destroyed 1/2 mn houses, people still residing under tents

Imagine living under threat of death and destruction for nearly a month. That’s what life has been for millions in Nepal, a month since a devastating earthquake jolted this Himalayan nation.

world Updated: May 25, 2015 23:31 IST
Utpal Parashar
Nepal

Imagine living under threat of death and destruction for nearly a month. That’s what life has been for millions in Nepal, a month since a devastating earthquake jolted this Himalayan nation.

Since April 25, when the temblor measuring 7.9 on Richter scale struck, over 260 more aftershocks of over 4 magnitude have taken place. One measuring 5 woke many up at 3:23 am on Monday.

Despite many residents still spending nights under tents out of fear or forced by their destroyed dwellings, life in Kathmandu is almost back to routine. But the same can’t be said for the hill districts.

Over 315,000 people in the 14 worst affected districts remain inaccessible by road and 75,000 more can’t be reached even by air, says figures released by UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“The window of opportunity to deliver life-saving food, shelter and medical supplies, is closing rapidly for people living in the mountains with no road access. Once the monsoon rains begin, access will be seriously constrained,” said OCHA in its latest report.

The quake destroyed nearly half a million houses and damaged 267,000 others. At a time when proper structures need to be built ahead of monsoon, most survivors are still residing under tarpaulins and tents.

“Reconstruction is the next big challenge. Providing temporary shelters to the affected ahead of the monsoon is an immediate concern,” said home ministry spokesperson Laxmi Prasad Dhakal.

Colleges in Kathmandu Valley reopened on Sunday and schools are set to resume from May 31. But with 36,000 classrooms destroyed and damaged, 870,000 students would be unable to go back to their old classrooms.

India eases transit rules

Following requests from international organisations, India has introduced a simplified transit procedure for transfer of relief materials sent by other countries and aid agencies to Nepal. It will be in operation for six months with an option of extension.