Earthquake victims struggle amid severe cold

Published On: January 2, 2017 07:57 AM NPT By: Narahari Sapkota

GORKHA, Jan 2: Life of earthquake victims in Gorkha has been hit by the increasing cold. On Sunday, several villages in northern Gorkha experienced heavy snowfalls while in other parts of the district sun did not show up through the day. 

Birbahadur Lama, a teacher from Sanagau village, said that lack of proper shelter has made the earthquake victims worry for saving their family from the increasing cold and snowfall. 

“On Sunday, it snowed throughout the day. The whole area is covered in around two inches thick snow,” he told Republica over telephone. “Everyone is extremely worried as these earthquake victims are still homeless. It’s been over one and half year but the government hasn’t still helped them in rebuilding their destroyed houses,” he added.

Except for a handful number of families, earthquake victims are still living in makeshift tents in the district that was the epicenter of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of 25 April, 2015. 

Snowfall was recorded in Lho, Chhekampar, Barpak, Laprak and Kejaura, among other VDCs of the district. By Sunday afternoon, settlements were covered in snow. “How can huts covered by tarpaulins or plastics fight the snow? These huts are completely soaked with dew and conditions become extreme if it rains and snows simultaneously,” said Raj Gurung of Laprak. Similarly, Salina Gurung from Swara informed that earthquake victims are struggling to save their lives. 

Manamaya Shrestha of Satipipal echoed the same complaints. She claimed that under the present situation, where residents don’t have warm shelters or clothes, some might succumb to the cold. “We neither have proper shelter nor warm clothes to save ourselves from the increasing cold. If the cold continues to increase, I am afraid it will make some sick and may even take the lives of some,” she stated. “We have tried our best to fix our plastic roofs but we have not been able to block the dew and snow,” she lamented. 

Shrestha informed that some people, especially children and old have fallen sick due to the cold. “Small babies and elderly people are mostly affected by the cold. In most of the cases last year, they did not recover until the cold subsided,” she said. “Since we don’t have warm clothes or a warm house, it’s very hard for us to care of our sick family members.”

She said that last year’s winter had claimed some lives. “We were living in very dire conditions then. But not much has changed now either. We do not have warm clothes, blanket and important of all, a warm house,” she said. 

Tharpa Lama of Bihi village said that the cold has equally hit tourists. Tourists travelling through the area for Manaslu and other mountains have been stranded by the heavy snowfall and rain. “It is very cold here. Snow has blanketed the whole village. There are tourists who have come to visit Manaslu and other high altitude areas, but the extreme climate has also affected their journey,” he said. 

Kopila Ghale from Barpak informed that residents there have remained indoors to avoid the extreme temperatures. “We have remained indoors and have gathered around fire. It’s been very difficult to step outside,” she said. However, teacher Lama stated that indoor fire, especially in facilities that lack proper ventilation can be hazardous. “There have been incidence in the past where people lost lives due to suffocation from indoor fires.” 

Along with humans, the brunt is felt equally by their cattle. In lack of proper sheds, residents are facing hardship in feeding and keeping their cattle warm, Lama said. “We have yak and mule to look after. When it snows from morning to evening, it becomes challenging to keep them warm and safe,” he said. He informed that the snowfall has even affected internet and telephone services.

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