Jajarkot/Kathmandu, Nov 6 (PTI) A second consignment of nine tonnes of emergency relief materials from India arrived in Nepal on Monday for the quake-affected families in the northwest mountainous region where people are facing a shortage of food, warm clothes and medicines as a fresh tremor struck the region.
Nepal was jolted by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake just before midnight on Friday that killed 153 people and injured over 250 others.
The earthquake, which hit Jajarkot and Rukum West districts in western Nepal, also damaged around 8,000 houses, both public and private, according to officials.
India has become the first country to dispatch emergency relief materials to the earthquake-hit districts in Nepal.
"India’s support to Nepal remains strong and steadfast in this difficult hour," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a post on X.
Deputy Chief of the Indian mission Prasanna Shrivastava handed over the second consignment of relief materials to Chief District Officer of Banke Shravan Kumar Pokhrel.
The second consignment of nine tonnes of relief material was transported to Nepalgunj by a special Indian Air Force C-130 and comprised essential medical and hygiene supplies, tents, sleeping bags and blankets.
The first consignment of more than 11 tonnes of relief materials provided by India which included tents, tarpaulin sheets, blankets, and sleeping bags along with essential medicines and medical equipment was handed over to Nepal on Sunday.
"India continues to remain steadfast in extending all possible support to the Government of Nepal in the aftermath of the Jajarkot earthquake," the Indian Embassy said in a statement.
Pokharel said the relief goods were sent towards the disaster-affected areas from Nepalgunj Airport and escorted by personnel from the Armed Police Force Nepal. He said a truckload of relief goods is for Jajarkot and the other for Rukum West relief materials will be handed over to the chief district officers of the respective districts.
The relief materials include 625 units of plastic tarpaulin and tents, 1,000 units of sleeping bags, 1,000 blankets, 70 large-size tents, 35 packets of tent accessories, medicines and 48 other articles, officials said.
Meanwhile, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Jajarkot and surrounding areas at 4:31 p.m. (local time), according to the National Seismological Center.
The epicentre of the quake was at Ramidanda of Jajarkot, it said. This was followed by another 4.5-magnitude earthquake at 4.40 p.m., said another official.
The survivors of the catastrophe cremated their deceased relatives on Sunday. Due to the difficult terrain, the relief materials are yet to reach several areas.
According to Suresh BK, a resident of Chiuritol, 13 people lost their lives in the village while several others were injured in the earthquake.
At least 56 houses in the village were completely destroyed while 110 houses, although still standing, have become inhabitable, said Suresh.
The villagers have been waiting for help to arrive. "But so far, we have not received any. All our crops, grains, food, clothes and other valuables lie buried in the debris. We haven’t been able to retrieve anything as there are no security personnel to help us,” The Kathmandu Post newspaper quoted Suresh as saying.
“It is unbearably cold outside and none of us have had any sleep since Friday night.” Chandra Prakash Gharti, mayor of Bheri Municipality, said that the local unit is collecting data to streamline relief distribution, which has caused delays in dispatching relief materials immediately to the affected villages.
The earthquake victims are in need of immediate help and blame the government for delayed response even during emergencies.
Kalawati Singh, a local survivor in Chiuritol, said that after two nights out in the cold, the villagers have started to fall sick.
"Elderly people and young children are falling ill. We don’t have warm clothes and have been spending our days and nights in the open field," Singh said. "There are no doctors or any medical help here. We have food left for a maximum of two days. We hope more help will soon arrive.” Karna Bahadur BK, a local of Aathbiskot Municipality who lost his 27-year-old cousin on Friday night, said that managing tarpaulin, blankets and food for the surviving members of the family is proving difficult with each passing day.
"I finally managed to find a tarpaulin tent for my family. There are limited resources here and people are struggling,” said Karna. “No help has arrived. People are starving, falling ill, and fighting for food. Children and the elderly are in failing health but help is nowhere close.” On Monday, authorities revised the death toll from the earthquake to 153 from 157, citing duplication of some names.
Friday's quake caused the worst human and infrastructure losses since the devastating jolt of April 2015.
In 2015, a 7.8 magnitude quake damaged nearly 800,000 houses besides killing nearly 9,000 people, according to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment Report, 2015.
"As per the initial estimate, around 3,000 houses have been fully damaged while an additional 5,000 suffered partial damages,” said Narayan Prasad Bhattarai, spokesman for the home ministry. “The final tally of damaged homes is yet to come.” Preventing possible outbreaks of communicable diseases in the coming days will be challenging, as people are forced to live in the open amid growing chill, Krishna Bahadur Khatri, information officer at the Health Office Jajarkot.
"An outbreak of communicable diseases—cold-related ailments and waterborne diseases—is likely in the coming days due to falling temperatures and damaged infrastructure.” Along with houses, toilets were also destroyed in the quake. Officials say the destruction of toilets increases open defecation, which risks contamination of water sources. The risk of vector-borne diseases—malaria, dengue, kala-Azar and scrub typhus among others—also increases, according to experts. PTI SBP/NSA ZH AKJ ZH ZH