Free Press Journal

Nepal ends 13-day mourning period, toll nears 8,000


Villagers carry an injured youth to an Indian Army helicopter in Gorkha district.

Kathmandu: Two fresh tremors were felt today in Nepal devastated by the massive earthquake that claimed nearly 8,000 lives, even as survivors dressed in white robes participated in mass prayers chanting Vedic mantras to end a 13-day mourning period. According to the National Seismological Centre 4.2-magnitude tremor was reported at 2.33 am. Another 4.0-magnitude temblor occurred at 7.56 am.

Both were epicentered at Nuwakot, one of the worst affected districts. However, no damage was so far reported from the aftershocks. Thousands of people still struggling to come in terms to the April 25 tragedy, took ritual baths in rivers, offering prayers for their loved ones who lost their lives and making donations.

At the iconic Pashupatinath complex, where hundreds of cremations have been performed in the past fortnight, priests chanted for the departed souls. “One of my young cousins was near the Dharhara Tower when the killer quake struck. He was hit by a huge debris of the falling minaret later died. We are all still very mournful and finding it hard to believe that he is no more,” Rushali, who lives near the Pashupatinath Temple said.

“While Kathmandu may have seen less damage, some of the rural areas have been literally obliterated. House after house in some areas have been reduced to mountains of rubble. We don’t know how much time it will take us to get back on our feet,” Chetan Bhandari, a city-based businessman, said.

“At this difficult time, we need God’s blessings to come out of this tragedy,” he said. A religious ceremony of reciting the peace hymns was organised in the Chitwan district praying for the peace of the departed souls.

“The Vedic Religious Council Nepal, Chitwan organised the programme today on the 13th day of the disaster,” said Dhruba Raj Aryal, chairman at the council. Aryal said they recited the Vedic mantra, the Bhagavat Geeta, Chandi, and stories from the Garud Purana.

During the customary mourning period, close family members stay at home, do not touch outsiders and refrain from eating salt. Meanwhile, the death toll due to the April 25 earthquake has reached 7,802 so far while the number of injured has shot up to 16,390.

Sindhupalchowk is the worst-hit district with nearly 3,000 while 1,209 died in Kathmandu. Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has made an arrangement to provide loan to quake victims at 2 per cent interest rate for the construction of their houses.