32 quake survivors die due to extreme cold in Jajarkot and Rukum West

Published On: December 10, 2023 09:05 AM NPT By: Nagendra Upadhyaya

SURKHET, Dec 10: Survivors of last month’s earthquake in western Nepal are now falling victims to the harsh winter, which is still unfolding in the unforgiving terrains of the mountainous districts affected by the massive quake. 

A total of 32 quake survivors living under tarpaulins lost their lives in the last one month because the government could not provide funds to build temporary shelters in time. 

As of Thursday evening, 27 people died due to cold in Jajarkot, the epicenter of the November 3 earthquake measuring 6.4 magnitude in the Richter scale, while five succumbed to the cold in Rukum West - a neighboring district which was badly affected by the quake. 

The rising cold is likely to claim more lives if authorities do not step up efforts to avoid such preventable deaths.

The earthquake on November 3 claimed 154 lives in Jajarkot and Rukum West. Jajarkot lost 101 people, while Rukum West lost 53. Many survivors are now sheltering under tarpaulins, as their houses were either destroyed or are not fit to stay. Sadly, due to the delay in government funding and a lack of proper shelter, most of the quake victims remain exposed, huddling under blankets for protection.

According to the Karnali Province Police Office, eight people lost their lives in Kushe Rural Municipality of Jajarkot, followed by six in Chedagad Municipality, four in Nalgad Municipality, four in Junichande Rural Municipality, two in Bheri Municipality, and three in Barekot Rural Municipality. Similarly, three individuals died in Aathbiskot Municipality of Rukum West, with one fatality each reported in Bafikot Rural Municipality and Sanibheri Municipality. 

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Nepal Police Bhim Dhakal, chief of the Karnali Police Office, said that many of the deceased suffered from chronic conditions like asthma, pneumonia, and heart problems. "Most of those who passed away had chronic illnesses," said DIG Dhakal, "Some also suffered fatal heart attacks during this challenging period." Additionally, police records indicate that four children succumbed to the cold during this time.

One-year-old Niraj Shahi from Silinge, Junichande Rural Municipality-5 in Jajarkot, passed away on November 24 due to pneumonia and high fever. Similarly, Niruta Pun, a one-month-old girl from Bheri Municipality-2, Purano Risang, also succumbed to pneumonia. Police records further reveal that three-year-old Rakshya Badi from Kushe Rural Municipality-1 and 12-year-old Deepak Sarki from Chedagad Municipality-8 Ruwa also lost their lives due to pneumonia.

Pediatrician Dr Navraj KC, who conducted a health camp for children in Jajarkot after the earthquake, said that vulnerable groups like children, senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses face challenges in makeshift shelters due to the harsh weather conditions. "If we do not immediately keep the earthquake victims warm, it seems that there will be more human casualties," said Dr KC said, "The authorities concerned must be careful about it."

As snow and rain started falling in the upper areas of Jajarkot, Dr Manish Regmi, who recently returned after distributing funds in Kushe Rural Municipality-7, observed various health issues among those living in tents. "The locals are facing various problems due to the lack of enough warm clothes in the high mountains regions," he said, "There is also a possibility of a cholera outbreak.”

Sapana Budha, a health worker working at the Ramidanda Health Post in Barekat Rural Municipality-1 of Jajarkot, the epicenter of the earthquake, there has been a surge in the number of patients at the health post after the earthquake. "Before the earthquake, five to seven patients used to come here daily, but now 50-60 patients visit us every day," she said, adding that the number could increase further.

Budha said that the government needs to ensure medical supplies on time and additional health workers considering the growing number of patients. "The elderly, children, and pregnant women are more vulnerable due to the cold. The entire village is freezing," she said, "Deploying health teams equipped with necessary equipment and medicines is crucial to address the escalating health needs within the community.”

Municipality gets Rs 310 million

The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee, Jajarkot has sent Rs 315 million in the first installment for the construction of temporary housing to the local level. The government had decided to provide Rs 50,000 per family for the construction of temporary housing. Chief District Officer Suresh Sunar said that the amount has been sent to the local level in the first installment.

"According to the Temporary Housing Construction Subsidy Procedure for Earthquake-affected Households, 2080, the money has been sent to four local levels for 12,600 families," he said, "After the construction of temporary housing starts, the second installment will be disbursed." According to the District Administration Office, Jajarkot, Rs 139.6 million have been sent to the local level for 5,586 beneficiaries of the Barekot Rural Municipality.

Similarly, Rs 90.16 million have been sent to 3,664 beneficiaries of Chedagad Municipality, Rs 1.025 million to 41 beneficiaries of Bheri Municipality and Rs 82.72 million to 3,309 beneficiaries of Shivalaya Rural Municipality. According to the Jajarkot District Administration Office, it has not received funds for other local levels. Similarly, the Jajarkot DAO has distributed Rs 1.67 million to the families of 100 deceased.

62,302 physical structure damage

The earthquake has damaged 62,302 buildings including private and public buildings in seven districts of Karnali Province. According to the police, 34,501 houses in Jajarkot, 16,909 in Rukum West, 2,546 in Dailekh, 7,574 in Salyan, 93 in Kalikot, 121 in Jumla and 45 in Surkhet were completely or partially damaged due to the earthquake.

Similarly, 277 schools were damaged in Jajarkot, 74 in Rukum West, two in Dailekh, 23 in Salyan, one each in Kalikot and Jumla, while 44 government buildings were damaged in Jajarkot, six in Rukum West, two in Dailekh, and seven in Salyan. Similarly, 33 police stations were damaged in Jajarkot, 12 in Rukum West, three in Salyan, two in Kalikot, and four in Jumla.

535 shelters constructed 

Only 535 temporary shelters have been erected for those who lost their houses in the earthquake. These shelters were built by different political parties and social organizations as the government's delay in providing funds hindered locals from constructing these shelters themselves. While budgets have reached some local levels, others are still awaiting these funds. Unfortunately, the first installment of the allocated budget has yet to reach the earthquake victims at the local level.

Various political parties and social organizations have constructed temporary housing for 485 residents in Jajarkot and 50 in Rukum West.

Details of those who died in tents

Kushe Rural Municipality (Jajarkot)

Maina Singh, 80, Kushe-2, Jajarkot

Man Bahadur Shahi, 55, Kushe-6, Jajarkot

Dume Pun, 70,  Kushe-1, Jajarkot

Galpu Shahi, 51, Kushe-6, Jajarkot

Padam Bahadur Shahi, 59, Kushe-7, Jajarkot

Lal Bahadur Shahi, 54, Kushe-7, Jajarkot

Ramsilan Shahi, 52, Kushe-9, Jajarkot

Rakshya Badi, 3, Kushe-1

Nalgad Municipality (Jajarkot)

Pampha Rawal, 49, Nalgad-4, Jajarkot

Gopal Bahadur Rawat, 84, Nalgad-4, Jajarkot

Dhankali Buddha Chhetri, 38, Nalgad-4, Jajarkot

Sarmila BK, 25, Nalgad-8, Jajarkot

Junichande Rural Municipality (Jajarkot)

1 Niraj Shahi, 1, Junichande-5, Jajarkot

2 Sugili Nepali, 89, Junichande-4, Jajarkot

3 Siduge Shahi, 70, Junichande-11

4 Birkhe Damai, 64, Junichande-1, Jajarkot

Chedagad Municipality (Jajarkot)

1 Mansari Kami, 56, Chedagad-13, Jajarkot

2 Mani Rawat, 62, Chedagad-2

3 Setu Budha, 61, Chedagad-2

4 Hari Bahadur Rawat, 57, Chedagad-1

5 Lile Budha, 65, Chedagad-1

6 Deepak Saraki, 12, Chedagad-8

Bheri Municipality (Jajarkot)

1 Dhuleshwar Karki, 88, Bheri-2, Jajarkot

2 Niruta Pun, 1 Month, Bheri-2, Jajarkot

Barekot Rural Municipality (Jajarkot)

1 Narendra Singh, 71, Barekot-4, Jajarkot

2 Challi Damai, 80, Barekot-7

3 Namraj Basnet, 29, Barekot-4

Aathbiskot Municipality (Rukum West)

1 Khagi Jaisi, 65, Aathbiskot-14, Rukum West

2 Tike Jaisi, 64, Aathbiskot-14, Rukum West

3 Naule Pun Magar, 75, Aathbiskot-11, Rukum West

Bafikot Rural Municipality (Rukum West)

1 Rato Khatri, 60, Bafikot-8, Rukum West

Sanibheri Municipality (Rukum West)

1 Nandakali Pun, 61, Sanibheri-1, Rukum West


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