By Troels Donnerborg, Danish Red Cross
As time passes, the hopes of finding people alive amid the rubble of Kathmandu fade, but the rescue work continues. It is vital to continue to dig. In the old town of Bhaktapur, volunteers and staff from the Nepal Red Cross Society work their way through mountains of brick, mud, wooden beams, school books, toys – the remnants of a community – in the hopes of finding people to save.
It is vital to continue to dig.
In this part of town, most houses have been shaken to pieces and on street corners, men and women with shining eyes stand and look at the mess that remains of their homes and possessions. One man stands amid the wreckage, he has lost his brother’s wife and daughter somewhere in here. He is inconsolable. Buddha Laxmi Ghosai is also here to witness the removal of her mother and sister by a Red Cross team.
Anders Ladekari, Secretary General of the Danish Red Cross, is also here in Bhakapur. “It is heartbreaking to see so many people who have lost everything,” he says. “Our work here is vital, but difficult. This community deserves a chance to mourn their loved ones.”
Across from the broken houses is a broken school. Fortunately, the earthquake happened on a Saturday. The classrooms were empty, and most of the children are alive to be sent away to a more secure place.
In communities like this, the scale of need is beginning to come clear, and the fear of going back into a half-ruined home means that shelter is at the top of the list. Many families have found materials to build temporary shelters, and what food and fresh water they can find is often shared. 17,000 family kits have already been deployed by the Red Cross and 100,000 more are en route to the country.
The Red Cross Red Crescent response to this disaster needs to be quick and efficient. It is vital to continue to dig, and to plan for when the digging stops.