Nepal earthquake recovery: The long road back to normal

By Denise Poon | Nepal in South Asia

Butel Tamang realised something was wrong.

It was a typical Saturday, the day of rest and of worship for all faiths in Nepal. In the village of Kichot, people gathered in Sinkilebenezer Church for their usual worship service. Butel was finishing his sermon when he realised the communion elements were missing.

He had forgotten the juice and crackers at home; he told the congregation they would postpone communion until the following week. Service was dismissed for the day.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal at 11:56 a.m. local time; its epicenter approximately 77 km northwest of the capital city Kathmandu.

It was only 15 minutes after church ended. If Butel had served communion as planned, the service would have gone longer and 50 to 60 people might have died, trapped in the church building.

The earthquake's depth was 15 km according to the US Geological Survey. An earthquake can strike as deep as 700 km - a shallow earthquake like this one will cause more damage than those that strike farther from the earth's surface.

Fulkumari Tamang had been out to buy noodles for her daughter when she felt the earth move under her feet, as if suddenly possessed by an evil spirit.

"I heard some people crying, I heard some people shouting," Fulkumari said. "What is under this earth? I felt like a magnet was pulling from the earth."

Fulkumari remembered running. Everything became muddled and confusing after that. She remembered things in bits and pieces as she came in and out of consciousness. Feeling her youngest son's arms holding her, and listening to him sob. Realizing with despair that her two daughters were dead the two lifeless bodies lying next to her, faces covered. Hearing voices around her praying. Her leg was injured and her head was split open and bleeding.

"Then I thought inside my heart, 'God saved me,'" she said.

The death toll of the Nepal earthquake was 9,000. Eight million more than one-fourth of the population have been affected, and an estimated 2.8 million people have been displaced from their homes.


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