Rain adds ominous edge to Nepal quake tragedy

  • Utpal Parashar & Agencies, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Apr 27, 2015 11:39 IST

Rain and fresh tremors on Sunday night added to the misery in Nepal hampering rescuers from sifting through tonnes of rubble to look for survivors of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that has killed over 2,500 people so far and left more than 6,000 others injured.

With no electricity, capital Kathmandu looked like a ghost town with rain pounding down, forcing the closure of the airport where chaotic scenes were witnessed on Sunday with stranded tourists desperate to go home.

A series of aftershocks — one of 6.7-magnitude — traumatised people, many of whom camped overnight in open spaces, fearful of staying indoors.

Acrid, white smoke rose above the revered Pashupatinath temple, where dozens of bodies were being cremated.

"We don't feel safe at all. There have been so many aftershocks. It doesn't stop," said Rajendra Dhungana, 34, who spent the day with his niece's family for her cremation.

The rain compounded the misery. "Still raining, adds to the misery. Only consolation is that it may ease the water crisis in some of the shelters," Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit tweeted. He said Nepal urgently need tents and medicines.

The nation's worst earthquake in 81 years exposed the woeful state of its medical facilities with hospitals struggling to treat vast numbers of injured with limited supplies and staff.

"...Nepal's best public hospital infrastructure has crumbled at a time when it should serve more people in a hurry," said senior surgeon Sarvendra Moongla, from Bir Hospital's Trauma Centre.

Children with multiple injuries were laid on dusty marble floors, while hundreds of other patients with bloodied limbs lay on the ground outside under tents.

A lack of morgue facilities meant that 13 bodies lay outside the hospital. Many patients were prematurely discharged to accommodate the injured survivors.

"The rush of patients hasn't abated since Saturday afternoon. We are dealing mostly with fractures, cuts, head injuries and both internal and external bleeding," said Dr Sanjeev Tiwari of the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

The government-run hospital was flooded with hundreds of patients and their relatives with the police and administration finding it difficult to manage the crowd. Among the many inside was Laxmi Thapa, a resident of Lalitpur, who was with her nine-year-old son. They had shifted to the hospital on Sunday after another hospital failed to treat her child's head injuries.

"The quake has destroyed my life. My son has sustained serious head injuries, but his elder sister and younger brother are no more," she sobbed, while cradling her son who was lying on the floor.

(With inputs from Utpal Parashar)

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