Quake at the Top of the World

Villagers in Barpak, a village at the epicenter of the Nepal earthquake, sift through rubble for belongings or anything usable, May 7.

The tiny country of Nepal, far up in the Himalaya Mountains, was wracked by a devastating earthquake on April 25. As many as 7,500 people lost their lives, at least 16,000 were injured, and thousands are still missing. The United Nations estimates that the homes of 2 million Nepalese have been destroyed. Nepal is one of the most remote countries of the world. It is also one of the poorest. The search for victims goes on in mountain villages—some Nepalese survivors have been found amid the wreckage of structures or under landslides.

The world’s people have responded to appeals for help, and an urgent relief effort is under way, involving aid workers from more than 30 different nations. The World Food Program and the International Committee of the Red Cross are on the ground assisting victims. The U.S. military is helping to lead the disaster relief effort, using its aircraft to fly supplies into the country and heavy equipment to remove the rubble. Experts from the United States and other countries are assisting the Nepal government to deliver food, shelter, clean water, and emergency medical care. They also are helping to conduct search-and-rescue operations and assess damage to infrastructure.

The quake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, was centered near the capital city of Kathmandu (elevation: 4,600 feet). Access to areas hit hard by the natural disaster has been made more difficult because roads were severely damaged. Kathmandu’s airport suffered some cracked runways because it was not equipped to handle the large cargo planes bringing in aid. The Himalayan nation is a popular tourist destination, such as for mountain climbers hoping to scale Mount Everest; therefore, many foreigners were also present when the earthquake hit. Some are still unaccounted for.

Image credit: © Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times/ReduxPictures

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