A violent, 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal today, 25th April, with its epicenter located 50 miles northwest of the capital, Kathmandu. The earthquake, the most devastating to strike the country this century, has claimed more than 900 lives, injured thousands of people and destroyed many buildings.
"The earthquake was devastating,” says Sarah Blin, Handicap International's Programme Director in Nepal, “and the earth trembled again several times in the day. Many buildings collapsed, especially outside Kathmandu. The population is in shock. The people rushed outside and moved to evacuation centres. Many will spend the next few nights outside, and are in need of camping equipment, especially the most fragile people."
“Hospitals are overwhelmed, and are short of staff and medical supplies. With roads blocked and difficult or interrupted communications, the situation is particularly problematic for remote villages."
Handicap International has solid experience in assisting victims of earthquakes, most notbaly in its response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. After such a strong earthquake, we expect to see cases of multiple fractures and spinal cord injuries among the people who survive building collapses. It is paramount that the wounded are taken care of immediately to reduce the risk of long-term disabilities.
Handicap International’s teams in Nepal have already delivered aid to the most vulnerable people in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Earlier today, staff distributed equipment, including wheelchairs, at two hospitals in Kathmandu . "Our teams are safe, they mobilized immediately. We are now in the process of accurately assessing needs so that we can set up our emergency response, " Blin adds.
Handicap International is calling for donations to help the earthquake victims in Nepal via an appeal page at www.handicap-international.org.uk or bit.ly/Nepal-Appeal .
Interviews available upon request with field staff in Nepal.
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an international aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Working alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations in over 60 countries worldwide, we take action and raise awareness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.