In the field as second powerful earthquake strikes Nepal


May 12, 2015

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  • A second powerful earthquake struck Nepal today northeast of Kathmandu. People who've just returned to their homes will now be forced to sleep outside again. All photos: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps

Christy has been managing emergency communications since the April 25 earthquake in Nepal. She was out in the field with our response team when today's 7.3 earthquake struck and sent this account along with the photos of what happened on the ground.

A renewed sense of fear is palpable in Nepal after today’s new earthquake. Many people had finally returned to their homes in the last several days, only to be shaken by another disaster so soon.

Our teams are now assessing the new damage and will work to continue our emergency supply distributions, which are only more critical after this additional destruction. You can help by donating to our Nepal Earthquake Response Fund ▸

We were in Balthali village, in the mountains of Kavre district. We spoke to Asha Kumari Tamang and her nine-year-old daughter Anita. Asha told me Anita wasn't eating much — that none of the kids in town were — and that they weren't sleeping through the night.

Asha and her young daughter Anita stand in front of damaged buildings in their village.

We tried to reassure her that aftershocks would be fewer and farther between as the weeks went on. We went on to talk about building materials and if anything can be salvaged, and walked around to the back of the house. The village is on the edge of a cliff, with terraced fields far below.

Asha looks up at her home before the second earthquake. After the second earthquake, the wall collapsed.

The kids were following us around like kids do when strangers come to a quiet village. Suddenly they started shrieking, and moments later I realized the ground was shaking. I thought at first it was an aftershock, but it got so intense. I sat on the ground with some mothers who were shouting for their kids to come away from the buildings.

Another of the women we'd spoken to started sobbing — she's 73 and told me she'd given birth to her five children in her house that was destroyed. The view there is beautiful and you can see around the whole valley. There were big plumes of dust coming from places across the way where buildings were collapsing.

Damage from the new earthquake is visible in the valley floor, as seen from the village.

I'm not sure what order things happened in, but there was a big crash as a building right next to me collapsed into itself. It was bedlam, and then it was sort of over. The shakes continued somewhat, but subsided. The crying and panic went on.

I have been talking with people about their experiences of the earthquake for two weeks, but it's the first time I'd been in such a remote village — high in the mountains — and really understood how traumatic and frightening aftershocks, and new earthquakes, are for people.

People really are struggling, they are afraid. I was afraid. All I could think about was how high up we were, how close that cliff was and how winding and impossible the switchback dirt roads were on the way there.

A problematic landslide stopped our team on the way back to Kathmandu. Mercy Corps staff and villagers work to clear the way.

We'd gone over places where there really wasn't a road — we were worried about landslides and aftershocks — and we experienced both on the way back. There was a landslide on the road, but the guys from the village joined our team in digging us out. We're back in Kathmandu now, having seen a fair amount of new destruction on the way.

How you can help

  • Donate to our Humanitarian Response Fund: Your gift will help people in Nepal recover and support our emergency efforts to crises in Syria, South Sudan, Ukraine and around the world. Give now ▸
  • Fundraise for survivors: Our team is able to quickly respond to natural disasters because of supporters like you — and the more people who come together to help, the more people we can reach. Spread the word to your family and friends: Start a fundraising page for Nepal ▸