Nepal is often a victim of landslides, floods and earthquakes. In fact, it was originally formed by a huge earthquake over millions of years ago. This earthquake was of such an immense power that it resulted in the high peaks which now characterize Nepal—The Himalayas.
The last major earthquake to hit Nepal was in 1934, when almost 20,000 or more people were killed. Additionally, many residential homes in Nepal were lost and a number of great landmarks and national treasures were destroyed. Despite the terrible loss of lives, property, and infrastructure during this great earthquake in Nepal, little learning has taken place and that our country appears unlikely to successfully withstand another great earthquake.
As Japan counts the cost of the devastating earthquake in its aftermath, a greater disaster may be looming over Nepal, which sits on the border between two huge plates that have moved together over millions of years to form the Himalayas.
Geologists believe Nepal is at a risk from an earthquake with a magnitude of around eight in the Richter scale that will kill more than half the population of the country, although it has not suffered a major quake for decades. Sadly, our country is woefully unprepared for such a jolt. Very low building standards, weak infrastructures, lack of planning and the fact that Kathmandu is built on the soft sediment of a former lake bed all contribute to a high risk.
Since our country lies in a highly seismic zone, the threat of an earthquake is very real. Experts have often stated that the next “BIG ONE” is due anytime. If such a great earthquake as anticipated takes place, the amount of devastation is sure to be mindboggling. Adding to the high fatality figures in the country is the inaccessibility of some villages and hence, the difficulty that emergency services may have in reaching and rescuing people. It is also notable that our country has very poor social infrastructure such as roads. Any disruption, damage or blockage of these roads could easily have a devastating consequence. Not only this, the people of our country have not been educated in safety measures. Buildings have increased dramatically over the past few years and finally the population of Kathmandu city alone has increased tremendously.
Awareness levels have increased over the past couple of years, but it is not enough. A massive and significant earthquake prevention programme is needed to be strictly reinforced and adhered to if lives are to be saved. Shouldn’t we be preparing ourselves to face the upcoming doom?
Gyawali is based in USA