Emergency update from the field

News and Press Release
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Our team in Nepal today is quickly prepping emergency supply kits for survivors of yesterday’s deadly earthquake. Each kit will supply a family with items like clean water, clothing, cooking utensils, towels and hygiene supplies to meet their daily needs.

We are also working to provide tarps and shelter kits in the next days to people who’ve lost their homes and have no safe shelter.

The team reported today that conditions are still extremely precarious; most people are sleeping outside for fear of damaged buildings collapsing from continued tremors.

“The emergency is not over,” noted Jared Rowell, Senior Program Officer for the region. “Aftershocks continue, some as strong as 6.7 magnitude, all through the Kathmandu Valley and are being felt throughout the country.”

“We just felt a big tremor,” said Mercy Corps Country Director Sanjay Karki right after this morning’s huge aftershock. “It is pretty terrifying.”

Mercy Corps has more than 90 staff members in Nepal, one of the largest humanitarian teams on the ground. Most are Nepalese and have suffered their own losses and damaged homes.

“There are major communications challenges, so it is difficult for people to find out if their relatives are safe,” says Karki. Yet, they are working as quickly as they can to help their neighbors survive and look for ways to help their communities rebuild after this tragic disaster.

Yesterday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake was the worst to hit the area in 80 years, striking just northwest of the densely populated capital of Kathmandu.

Reports so far indicate that thousands of people were killed and even more were injured in the deadly earthquake. The damage in Kathmandu is extensive, with homes, roads and historic temples completely destroyed.

It’s estimated that 6.6 million people have been affected across 40% of the country. But communications are still spotty, so the real damage of the earthquake, particularly in more remote areas, is still unknown.
“The death toll will rise,” said Karki. “Numbers are still coming in from places outside of Kathmandu.”

The extent of the damage is particularly worrisome in a country where nearly two-thirds of people live on less than $2 a day. They will have few resources to get the most basic supplies and recover all that they have lost.

Our team is currently coordinating with the U.N. and other relief agencies to make sure urgent needs are met in the epicenter of the quake around Kathmandu. The government has requested that we quickly increase our distributions to 5,000 emergency supply kits, 2,000 shelter kits and 5,000 tarps.

Because most of our staff are local and have direct connections with communities, we’re uniquely positioned to assess the damage in harder-to-reach areas that have not yet been heard from.

We expect the situation to become clearer in the next few days so we can scale up our response and reach areas where we will have the greatest impact for survivors.

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