Kathmandu - 26 April - Even as the UN Development Programme (UNDP) together with UN agencies and the international community strive to support the Government of Nepal in assessing and responding to the damage caused by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the country early yesterday, there is no question about the widespread loss of life and damage to infrastructure across the country, including in the capital Kathmandu.
Over 15 strong aftershocks have rocked the country in less than 24 hours after the initial earthquake, which is being called the worst disaster to hit the country since a 1934 earthquake that led to more than 10,000 fatalities.
Latest government figures indicate that more than 1,900 people are dead, and more than 5,000 injured. The final toll may be much higher as reports continue to trickle in from far flung districts. An estimated 6.6 million people living in about 40 percent of the country have been affected.
Saving lives remains the immediate priority.
“It is essential that we move quickly and effectively,” said Jamie McGoldrick, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Nepal. “We need to ensure that no further lives are lost and the needs of the most vulnerable are prioritized.”
Thousands of people spent their first night under open skies, fearing the aftershocks continue rumble across the country. In response to the disaster, Nepal’s Government has declared a national emergency, and has appealed to the international community for assistance.
UNDP has been supporting the Government in gathering and assessing information about immediate needs, and a clearer picture of the damage is likely to emerge over the next 48 hours. The UN Humanitarian Country Team is coordinating international relief efforts to support the Government.
UNDP will be providing support aimed at debris removal, and will help to bolster the capacity of local bodies in an effort to aid both search and rescue and early recovery.