The number of houses destroyed in quake-hit Nepal is over 1,60,000, nearly twice the number of households wrecked in the 1934’s deadly temblor that has been the country’s worst disaster of all times.
In worst-affected districts like Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk, the damage is even more extensive, with up to 90 per cent of houses destroyed, according to a situation report released by the United Nation’s humanitarian agency OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
“According to the government, the earthquake destroyed 1,60,786 houses and damaged 1,43,642 (as of May 1). The government is currently projecting this caseload to increase to a total number of 5,00,000 houses destroyed,” it said.
On April 25, a powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake, with its epicentre located at about 80 km north-west of Kathmandu, hit the country and left a trail of death and devastation, killing over 7,000 and injuring 14,123 others.
Among the affected districts, Sindhupalchowk has reported the maximum casualties with over 2,000 deaths, and several hundreds have died in Gorkha, where the epicentre of the deadly quake lay that fateful day.
The report has also estimated USD 415 million as needed for vital humanitarian relief in the quake-ravaged country.
According to the report, the number of houses wrecked in the earthquake 81 years ago stood at 80,893.
The 1934 Great Nepal-Bihar Earthquake, with its epicentre about 9.5 km south of Mt Everest, had killed several thousand people on both sides of the Himalayas and practically flattened Kathmandu Valley besides levelling several districts in Bihar like Munger, Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga, destroying houses and grand palaces.
The April 25 quake has in many ways become an eerie reminder to the 1934 quake, which too has robbed the culturally-rich country of its architectural jewels, including the iconic Ghantaghar (clock tower).
The Dharhara tower, a veritable landmark of the city was destroyed in 1934 as well, but was rebuilt later, only to meet a more cruel fate this time.
21-year-old Salu in Dolalghat area in Kavre district says she is still scared to step into her house.
“Our house has developed major cracks and it is right by the river bank. We have left all our belongings inside and we are now sleeping under tents at a community place,” she said.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have reported that 25 National Societies are supporting the Nepalese Red Cross Society providing critical life-saving relief.
The report said that they have provided nearly 15,000 tarpaulins and some 1,000 blankets as well as several hundreds of hygiene kits and thousands of water purification tablets.
OCHA’s Resident Coordinator in Nepal James McGoldrick told state-run Nepal Television: “The whole culture, centres of years of history on display have been blown away.
“And, these were not just buildings but also part of the psyche of the country… But, people of Nepal have shown great resilience and (are) building back their lives.”
In Kathmandu Valley, besides the capital – which has lost its architectural grandeur and overwhelming number of houses, Bhaktapur and Patan areas have also suffered major damage where streets by dark appear haunted now, with barely a soul to be seen.
According to the report, 1,383 schools have also been damaged in the quake.