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Nepal hit by twin earthquakes left to rebuild lives alone

AFP
Published May 15, 2015, 12:02 am IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 4:51 am IST
The 7.3-magnitude quake that hit Nepal on Tuesday killed scores of people
The second major quake in Nepal was followed by at least six major aftershocks measuring from magnitude 5.6 to 6.3. (Photo: AP)
 The second major quake in Nepal was followed by at least six major aftershocks measuring from magnitude 5.6 to 6.3. (Photo: AP)

Bhaktapur, Nepal: Krishna Prajapati's house in the historic Nepali town of Bhaktapur only just withstood last month's massive earthquake, but a second one this week proved too much for the weakened structure to take.

Just a day after his home collapsed on Tuesday, the 62-year-old was out salvaging bricks from piles of rubble the army had cleared from the streets of the devastated town to begin the grim task of rebuilding.

 

"We thought it would be okay after the first one hit. We were camping outside just in case, but we had left all our possessions in there," said Prajapati of the home he built for his family 40 years ago. "We came back to find everything gone."

The 7.3-magnitude quake that hit Nepal on Tuesday killed scores of people and dealt a fresh blow to a country still reeling from the devastation wrought by an even larger tremor just weeks earlier.

It brought down dozens of homes in Bhaktapur, a quiet town in the Kathmandu Valley surrounded by golden wheat fields and filled with ancient temples, although casualty numbers were low because most residents had already left their homes fearing further tremors.

Newspaper editor Kunda Dixit said life was just beginning to go back to normal in the valley when the latest quake hit, reviving memories of the first and sending people who had begun returning to their homes back into the open.

"A lot of people are traumatised -- the memory of the first one was still strong," he said.

The government has promised 200,000 Nepali rupees (around USD 2,000) in compensation for every home destroyed in the quake, but it remains unclear when the money will be made available.

Without it Prajapati, who ekes out a living making clay pots for the creamy buffalo milk yoghurt that Bhaktapur is famous for in Nepal, has no hope of funding construction of a new house for his family.

In the meantime, many residents are still sleeping outdoors - the lucky ones in sturdy-looking Red Cross tents on the outskirts of the town; others under tarpaulin shelters that look unlikely to withstand the monsoon rains now just weeks away.

Nepalese troops armed with shovels were this week clearing rubble from the streets of Bhaktapur, where the government says 7,000 homes have been destroyed and another 2,000 damaged.

Even though Bhaktapur is just 15 kilometres from the capital Kathmandu, residents said they had received little or no government aid nearly three weeks after the first quake hit. 

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