Free Press Journal

89 foreigners among over 300 missing in quake-hit Nepal



Kathmandu: Over 300 people, including 89 foreigners, are still missing after two powerful, devastating earthquakes struck Nepal, claiming nearly 9,000 lives. About 240 Nepalese nationals and 89 foreigners are still missing since the country’s worst earthquake jolted the Himalayan nation on April 25, police said. Another powerful earthquake struck on May 12, causing further devastation just as the country was beginning to rebuild itself through relief and rehabilitation.

At least 79 foreigners, including 49 Indians, have been killed in the twin earthquakes, the police said in a statement. Of the total foreign military personnel deployed from 18 countries for rescue and search operations, 2,509, including 851 Indians, have already left Nepal while 1,807 personnel, including 564 Indians, are in the process of returning home, according to a statement by the Nepal Army. Eight MI-17 helicopters and five ALH choppers from India, 3 MI-17 choppers from China, 3 UH1Y and 4 MV-228 choppers from the US have conducted their flights in search and rescue works, airlifting injured people, managing debris and supplying relief materials to various earthquake-hit areas.

The 7.9-magnitude earthquake which struck Nepal on April 25 and another measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale on May 12 have left nearly 9,000 people dead and 21,845 injured besides destroying or damaging tens of thousands of buildings. Nearly 260 aftershocks have kept people on edge, with the latest tremor measuring 4.2 on the Richter Scale today jolting central Nepal. The mild tremor struck at 1.14 pm with the epicentre at Dolakha, according to the National Seismological Centre. Five aftershocks measuring between 4 to 5 on the Richter Scale were recorded yesterday. Meanwhile, Nepal is facing a crunch of labourers for reconstruction work as some 20,000 Nepali migrant labourers have left the country in the past one month.

After the earthquakes and aftershocks, a large number of migrant workers have started returning to their countries, which is further making it difficult for the government to implement its plan of employing around 1,00,000 volunteers in rebuilding the quake-affected districts, experts said. Kathmandu, the capital city, is also facing a labour crunch as many skilled and semi-skilled Indians, who were working in different service sectors have returned home after the quake. There is a shortage of barbers, plumbers, vegetable vendors and carpenters in Kathmandu as most of the labourers come from across the border, mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.