A Rising death Toll, Severe Damage to a Culture - Nepal's Earthquake Calamity of 2015
The death toll from Saturday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal has top 3,617, with some 6,500 people injured, Nepalese authorities are reporting.
And amidst severe damage and destruction to historic and cultural sites in the country of 28 million, there is a bothersome fear that the human tragedy will increase as search and rescue teams claw and dig their way to rural areas, close to the epicenter of the quake, 50-miles northwest of the capital, Kathmandu.
Heavy rains and more than 100 aftershocks have hindered search and rescue efforts. And for the second night in a row, many surviving quake victims in Kathmandu spent Sunday night in tents in open areas, or alongside the roadways - fearing the collapse of damaged, or of remaining structures by one of the many aftershocks, of which one measured 6.7 magnitude on Sunday, fell damaged buildings and caused more avalanches on Mount Everest, where 17 climbers have been confirmed killed, and 62 injured. Aftershock fears have also chased some Kathmandu residents out of the city and onto the plains.
Sadly, UNICEF estimates there are at least 940,000 children severely affected by the calamity in areas including Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk and Kathmandu districts, Reuters reported.
On Sunday, Nepalese cremated some of the dead as relief efforts struggle to stock Kathmandu with water and food.
Fourteen International medical teams are in Nepal or on the way to render aid. Another 15 International search and rescue teams are already assisting or en route. But relief efforts have also been effected by the forces of nature as heavy rains, triggering mudslides, slowed search and rescue efforts immediately after the quake. Moreover, 100-plus aftershocks have delayed relief teams landing at Kathmandu's airport, as some flights were forced to circle before landing.
Sprawling tents have been set up around the capital by relief teams. Earlier this morning, the skies cleared over Kathmandu - giving relief teams, an open window to search and rescue operations. Helicopters took to the air for rescue missions on Mount Everest and the roads leading to the epicenter of the quake at Gorkha district, were opened.
However, it is at Gorkha and other rural mountainous villages that authorities fear they will meet more devastation and death.
Culturally, four of the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley, were severely damaged in the earthquake. In the city of Bhaktapur, half of all homes have been destroyed and 80 percent of Temples damaged. The Nepali Times editor, Kunda Dixit, described the destruction to the BBC-News as: "...culturally speaking" it is "an incalculable loss."
Thus, faced with a rising death toll and severe damage to its culture, Nepal's road to recovery will be long. Yet, Nepalese could find comfort in knowing and seeing that the International community is doing all that it could to aid in relief and in rebuilding.