On Saturday morning, 25th April, a powerful earthquake struck Nepal. So far the disaster has killed more than 1,000 people. Nepal has declared a state of emergency, and Handicap International teams are already on the ground, delivering direct aid and evaluating the need for a large-scale emergency intervention.
The quake’s epicentre was 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu, the country’s capital city. This is the most devastating earthquake to hit the country in 80 years, and in addition to the rising death toll, hospitals are treating thousands of people who were injured as buildings collapsed around them.
"A state of emergency was declared by the government, which is calling for international help," explains Sarah Blin, Handicap International's Nepal Programme Director. "Here (in Kathmandu), the earthquake was very impressive, and the earth is still shaking. Many buildings have collapsed, especially outside of Kathmandu."
"The population is shocked. They rushed outside and are sheltering in evacuation centres. The hospitals are overcrowded, and there is a lack of medical staff and material. Roads are blocked, communications are interrupted, and the situation is especially problematic for the people living in remote villages."
"Our team is in a good health. We have already distributed wheelchairs in Kathmandu’s two main hospitals. We are evaluating the need for a larger emergency response, preparing our teams here in in Kathmandu and in those located abroad."
From our long experience in dealing with earthquakes and natural disasters, we know how important it is to act quickly to prevent injuries becoming long-term disabilities. Present in Nepal since 2000, Handicap International works to improve the quality of rehabilitation services, and help communities prepare for natural disasters. Our team is already on the ground, ready to provide life-saving and practical help to disabled, injured and vulnerable people.