A magnitude 7.9 earthquake has paralysed Kathmandu and wreaked havoc on Pokhra and surrounding areas in Nepal and northern India. There are hundreds of casualties, with some reports of over 1000 dead. The structural damage to Kathmandu is extensive, which is still experiencing strong aftershocks and loss of power.
Caritas Australia, the international aid and development agency of the Catholic Church, has three staff members currently in Kathmandu who are working with Caritas Nepal in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.
Caritas Australia Programs Coordinator for Nepal, Eleanor Trinchera, reports from on the ground in Kathmandu, "I have never seen so much devastation. While the streets are rife with activity and chaos as people try to find loved ones and friends, the city is paralysed with destroyed buildings, blocked roads, intermittent power and rolling aftershocks."
We are working with our Caritas Nepal team to coordinate rescue efforts and our immediate emergency response.”
Caritas Australia, part of the second largest humanitarian network in the world, has worked in Nepal for decades.
Caritas Nepal Director, Fr Pius Perumana SJ, said from Kathmandu: "It was the worst earthquake I have ever experienced in my life. The aftershocks are still strong.
He said that there has been lots of physical damage, electricity has been down making communications difficult and roads are blocked. "Lots of houses have fallen down and there are lots with cracks. Thank God it was during the day and on a holiday as many people were outside when the quake happened."
Assessments are coming in and Caritas teams in country are organising the response. "Rescue is still the main priority at the moment. Lots of people have lost their homes and are out on the street or in open spaces, so we will be looking to provide them with food and temporary shelter," said Fr Pius.
At the time the earthquake struck Ms Trinchera was an hour out of Kathmandu, when they drove back she describes the scene, “we witnessed terrible scenes of destruction - hospitals were evacuated with patients being treated on the ground outside, homes and buildings demolished and some roads cracked wide open.”
The international Caritas network has begun procuring emergency relief materials such as tarpaulins/shelter kits and water, sanitation and hygiene materials.
For on the ground interviews contact media advisor Nicole Clements on 0408 869 833 or firstname.lastname@example.org