Kathmandu, Nepal 25.04.2015: CARE is mobilizing to respond to the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck between the Nepalese capital Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara at 11:45am local time. CARE, a leading humanitarian organization, is appealing for funds to ramp up the emergency response and provide immediate life-saving assistance to those affected.
Today’s earthquake, reportedly the largest since the devastating 1934 earthquake that killed over 8,500 people, has destroyed homes, roads and key infrastructure. CARE is still trying to get in touch with staff on the ground to make sure they are safe. Many landlines and mobiles are down and communications is proving a real challenge. The main international airport in Kathmandu was initially closed after suffering cracks to the runway and roads have been damaged so getting emergency support staff and key relief items into the affected areas may be a real challenge.
“This quake was so big,” says Prajana W. Pradhan, who is helping coordinate CARE’s emergency response. “The Dharhara tower collapsed on some people. Responders are trying to dig people out now. We’ve been feeling tremors for four hours. I just felt another big jolt. There are no causalities here but my brother in law’s house is damaged. They are putting up somewhere nearby in a friend’s house. I still haven’t managed to contact my sisters. Their phones are still down.”
Nepal is a country at high risk of earthquakes, and experts have long been warning of the impact of a major earthquake near Kathmandu. CARE has been anticipating an earthquake like this for a long time, and processes and response plans are in place. According to Lex Kassenberg, CARE Nepal’s country director, the first priority will be to do a damage assessment as soon as possible in order to ascertain the levels of impact and respond appropriately. “We have heard that building walls have collapsed and already around 700 people have been killed,” he says, “and this number is expected to rise dramatically as more information becomes available. This is going to require huge resources to respond.”
According to Kassenberg the main worry now is “the aftershocks which are between 4.5 – 6 magnitude in the area which means people are afraid to go back into their houses. The biggest challenge we are looking at is how far electricity and water supplies have been affected as these will be the biggest areas of concern.”
While CARE hopes that this isn’t the massive earthquake experts have long predicted, we are prepared for the worst-case scenario. CARE staff on the ground are working to coordinate with other agencies and CARE has plans in place to assist up to 75,000 people with assistance including temporary shelter, ready to eat meals and water purification and latrine construction.
The last large earthquake to hit Kathmandu was in 1934, when the population was 200,000 to 300,000 people – ten times smaller than Kathmandu is today. Most buildings are at least three- to four-story high concrete structures, with many much higher and the impact from an earthquake of this magnitude could be catastrophic on the population and infrastructure of the country.
Media Contacts: Holly Frew: +1 770.842.6188 firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT CARE: CARE has worked in Nepal since 1978, with programs focused on areas including food security, HIV/AIDS, health, education, water and sanitation, and the empowerment of women and girls. CARE's has responded to past emergencies in Nepal, including massive landslides in the Sindhupalchowk district in August 2014. CARE's emergency response teams specialize in providing life-saving food, water, shelter and health care. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE, which works in 90 countries around the world, places a special focus on women, children and other vulnerable populations, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. In 2014, our emergency response and recovery projects reached nearly four million people in 40 countries.