Dr Buddha Basnyat, who is well known to many BGTHA members, lives and works in Kathmandu. Here is a link to his recent blog.
The world has been shocked and horrified to hear of the scale of injury, death and destruction following the recent earthquake in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. We hope to keep members up to date with the situation there and we would like to encourage you to contribute to both the immediate disaster appeal and the need for long term help and reconstruction that will follow. The Disasters Emergency Committee has launched an appeal at http://www.dec.org.uk to help with the immediate needs. One of the hospitals involved in treating the many injured is the Patan Hospital which would welcome contributions to help with its work. You can donate to the hospital by clicking here.
Community Action Nepal is a charity run by the climber Doug Scott which works in some of the remote areas that have been worst hit and will be involved in long term health and reconstruction projects. Their contributions page can be found here.
The people of Nepal are well known for the welcome, friendship and kindness that they show to visitors to their country. Now is the time for us to return some of that kindness in their time of need.
The International Red Cross is trying to reunite families and friends and has lists of those who are reported as still alive and those who are still reported as missing. Click here for more information.
The village of Langtang was the site of the largest single catastrophe, as the entirety of village was completely buried by an avalanche that came from thousands of feet above on the southern slopes of Langtang Lirung and Langtang II. Smaller settlements on the outskirts of Langtang, such as Chyamki, Thangsyap, and Mundu were also buried. It is impossible to determine exactly how many people died there, but the estimate is perhaps over 300 people in total. The handful of survivors, roughly twelve locals and two foreigners, walked down to Ghodatabela below after spending the night of the 25th in a cave - thus there is no one at Langtang itself. This avalanche is perhaps 2-3 kilometers wide, and is obstructing movement within the upper valley corridor. Currently two large groups are stranded above and below (due to several intensive and recurring landslides in the steep sections between Ghodatabela and Lama Hotel).
Above, at Kyangjin Gompa, there were reportedly fewer casualties (perhaps 5-10) yet many injured. Most of the injured have been evacuated via helicopter and there is an army medic team in place. Yet, currently, the problem is one of food shortage and illness. I have heard that the majority of the settlement, including the gompa, is remarkably intact. There is a smaller group of about 30-40 at the settlement of Sindum, about 4km below Kyangjin and closer to Langtang. This group has excavated several bodies from the major avalanche zone. They have also evacuated many of the injured, but are facing severe food shortages and illness (hopefully remedied by Nepal Army reinforcements and supplies on the evening of the 27th. Above Kyangjin Gompa, there were several smaller groups and climbing teams exploring the Upper Langtang valley, in a very high avalanche risk zone – I do not have good information on these groups, so please contact the respective embassies to determine who has been accounted for and evacuated via Kyangjim. As of the evening of April 27th, there was perhaps 120-140 people remaining above Langtang who need to be evacuated.
Below, at Ghodatabela (where I was located during the earthquake for roughly 55 hours following the event) several large landslides were triggered from all directions, the largest from perhaps 1,500 meters above just below the settlement, completely obstructing passage. The two guesthouses there were partially destroyed by large boulders, and the army checkpoint barracks collapsed during the earthquake. The night after the quake, there were two groups sleeping in separate fields by the river, keeping distance from ongoing landslides and rockfall that continued throughout the night. 24 hours after the slide, the Army then moved the group to a single location across the river, which proved to be the safest location.
Elsewhere in Rasuwa, around Briddim and Lingling and in several places along the road from Dhunche to Betrawati, in places such as Grang and Ramche, the majority of houses collapsed. I am not sure of the casualties caused by structural collapse. The Dhunche road itself seemed passable from the air, as there are no new large slides (other than the existing monsoonal ones), but I was told by someone walking from Syaphru Besi to Kalikasthan that a member of their group had fallen to their death while travelling. Along the Trishuli River valley itself, there are other smaller landslides and reports of significant collapse at Mailung, Simle, and Archale. In Betrawati, Gerkhu, and Mhanegaun in bordering Nuwakot district several houses also collapsed, and there were casualties in all of these places.
The current data on total casualties following the earthquake here in Nepal is approaching 4,500. However, this is probably an underestimate considering that the estimate for the entire district of Rasuwa is 250, and there are at least 300 dead in the area around the village of Langtang alone. Across the board, it is still very difficult to determine exactly what has occurred in remote areas off the road system, as communication is down. Considered in terms of the percentage of total population, my sense is that Rasuwa has likely the third highest rate of fatality, behind Sindhupalchowk (at the epicenter of the major aftershock) and Dhading (closer to the center of the earthquake). Again, Langtang is probably one of the greatest single tragedies of this earthquake.