Red Cross teams in Nepal are on high alert following today’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck near the town of Namche Bazaar, near the base of Mount Everest. Initial reports indicate that hundreds of homes have collapsed, many of which were already damaged by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country on April 25.
American Red Cross President & CEO, Gail McGovern, has just returned from her trip to the small Himalayan country where shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, health care and food remain priorities.
All American Red Cross staff in Nepal have been accounted for. American Red Cross team members deployed to the region in the wake of the April quake have been supporting emergency relief, cash transfer programming, information management, recovery planning and IT/telecoms. More than 80 international and local Red Cross workers based out of the Nepal Red Cross headquarters in Kathmandu, rapidly evacuated the compound when the earthquake struck and now face a night sleeping in a recently erected temporary warehouse until the aftershocks subside.
The Norwegian Red Cross rapid deployment hospital based in the town of Chautara, has seen a steady influx of injured people throughout the day and the support team working at the hospital are helping to set up a camp outside to provide shelter for local villagers, many of whom are too scared to return to their homes or have lost their homes altogether.
The Red Cross’s Maude Froberg was en route to the town of Tatopani close to the Tibetan border. Her convoy was forced to turn back to Kathmandu after worrying reports of landslides in the area.
“We were high up in the mountains. It was quite terrifying as there were about ten aftershocks and we felt that there could be a landslide at any moment,” she said. “Over the course of the afternoon we saw a lot of vehicles heading out of Tatopani towards Kathmandu.”
At the Canadian Red Cross basic health care unit located high up in the mountains in Dhunche, the team witnessed a dramatic landslide when a nearby hillside collapsed into the valley below. View a short video of the rock slide on YouTube - https://youtu.be/T79UDt4_lUo
“The combination of rains and aftershocks now makes our job even more challenging as the roads become highly perilous,” explains Martin Faller, head of operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Asia Pacific. “Today’s earthquake has dealt a double blow to many of the same people who were hit by the 25 April quake. More people will now be in need of emergency shelter but they will also need support dealing with the trauma they have experienced. People are very scared.”
Reports coming in also indicate that there has been damage to areas in the Kathmandu Valley. The Nepal Red Cross has mobilized emergency first aid teams and are providing services to the injured including teams dispatched to Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, where ambulances are transporting the injured to hospitals.
Thus far, the American Red Cross has committed $5 million to help the people of Nepal recover from the devastating earthquake and aftershocks. In addition to the deployment of disaster specialists, the American Red Cross is contributing relief supplies such as jerry cans, tarps and kitchen sets, and is providing remote mapping and information management support, with nearly 4,500 volunteers contributing to mapping Nepal.