By Patrick Fuller, IFRC
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 gathered by the Nepal Red Cross Society from its district branches indicate that hundreds of homes have collapsed, many of which were already damaged by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country two weeks ago. The districts of Dolakha and Sindhuplachok, which bore the brunt of the 25 April quake, appear to have been hit hard.
The Norwegian Red Cross rapid deployment hospital based in the town of Chautara in Sindhupalchok, 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 the hospital to provide shelter for local villagers, many of whom are too scared to return to their homes or have lost their homes altogether.
More than 80 International and local Red Cross workers based out of the Nepal Red Cross Society 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.
Maude Froberg, spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), 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 field hospital located high up in the mountains in Dhunche the team witnessed a dramatic landslide when a nearby hillside collapsed into the valley below.
“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 IFRC 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. Nepal Red Cross Society has mobilized emergency first aid teams in the Valley and team members are providing services to the injured including teams dispatched to Lalitpur and Bhaktapur where ambulances have been mobilized to transport the injured to hospitals.