Families hoping for a quick return to homes following landslide in Nepal

Publié: 1 septembre 2014 18:11 CET

By Ramesh Tharu and Mark South in Kathmandu

One month on from the devastating landslide which destroyed a mountainside village and killed 150 people, communities nearby are still concerned about the effects the disaster may have.

The landslide, triggered by torrential monsoon rains, occurred in the early hours of 2 August overwhelmed the village of Jure in Sindhupalchok district, about 120 km east of Kathmandu and blocked a nearby river.        

The dam created by the landslide has been partially cleared by Nepal army explosives experts, but those downstream fear the sudden release of the growing body of water behind it will cause flash floods.  

“People on both sides of the dam are worried about flooding – whether too much water goes through or if it continues to accumulate,” said Rajendra Man Talchavadel, Chairman of Sindhupalchok District chapter.

At the same time, scores of families forced from their homes by the landslide remain displaced, many having lost their homes as well as loved ones, others with homes too dangerous to return to.

Ram Bahadur Lama, 51, from Jure, lost 13 members of his family, including his wife and four of his children, in the landslide.

After spending several days sheltering under a Red Cross tarpaulin he is now temporarily staying in accommodation at a nearby quarry.

“They’ve said we can stay here for the next few weeks but after that I don’t know,” he said.

“We have lost everything. Some people have sent some food or clothes to help us, but this is only short term – we also need long term support to be able to rebuild our houses and our lives.

“I don’t expect much, but any small help could make a big difference to our lives.”

At the same quarry site, 26-year-old Maiya Adhikari is staying with her husband and three daughters, aged two, five and eight.

They are one of fourteen families living in large an open-sided warehouse – little more than a corrugated iron roof with a rough gravel floor, and Red Cross tarpaulins strung up as walls to keep the elements out.

They have been there for a month and do not know when they will be able to move to more permanent accommodation.

“My house was not hit directly by the landslide but because it is close to the site, we were told we had to move out because it was too dangerous to stay,” she said. “We came here four days after the disaster and we’ve been here ever since.

Adhikari says she and her family would love to go home, but the situation is not simple. “I’m confused about what’s happening. The army is clearing the river and we don’t know what will happen – if the landslides keep happening then we can’t go back. We just have to wait and see what happens,” she said.

“I worry about my children, what will happen if we can’t go home? I want my children to go to school and we want life to go back to normal. We all sleep in this shed together, there is no privacy and we just want to be able to go home.”

Amid the uncertainty, the Red Cross is continuing to respond, helping to meet the needs of communities, and bracing itself for the possibility of further emergencies.

Bayan Rajbhandari, Chairman of Khadichaur Red Cross chapter said: “I’m from this community, I know people who lost family, everybody knows somebody who died. Even now distributions are still ongoing as there are still a lot of people who have lost everything and who have not been able to find a new place to live.

“We don’t know what will happen in the future, our only hope as the Red Cross is that we will have the resources to give people the help they need.”