Plastic tarpaulins to build shelters and solar-powered lamps were flown April 27 to Nepal as pleas for emergency relief supplies grew along with the death toll from the April 25 earthquake that devastated one of the poorest countries in Asia.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed at least 4,200, mostly in Nepal but also in India and China, and injured at least 7,000. It left tens of thousands more homeless, especially outside of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, which is about 50 miles from the epicenter.
Some 6 million people live in and around Kathmandu, where ancient temples were reduced to ruin. Electrical power remains intermittent, and search-and-rescue missions expanded into more remote areas. Survivors are in need of water, food, medical supplies and shelter.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 19,000 plastic sheets and 8,000 solar lamps were sent to Nepal in the first two days following the earthquake, which triggered avalanches on Mount Everest, killing 18 climbers and leaving about 200 stranded.
“We are deeply saddened that thousands of people have been killed, injured or displaced in the disaster. These numbers are still rising with frequent aftershocks and as search and rescue teams reach remote areas,” said Daisy Dell, UNHCR's director of the Asia-Pacific bureau, in an April 27 news release “UNHCR stands in solidarity with Nepal, which has been a generous host to thousands of refugees over the years.”
UNHCR shipped 11,000 plastic sheets and 4,000 solar lamps from its warehouse in Damak to the hilly districts in eastern Nepal while another 8,000 plastic sheets and 4,000 solar lights were sent to Katmandu via a cargo plane donated by the United Arab Emirates Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
News photos of the aftermath show survivors living under orange, blue and green tarps turned into makeshift tents. Vast tent cities have popped up in Kathmandu for those who lost their housing or are afraid to return home because of the aftershocks.
In the rural areas, fewer fatalities were reported but the number of homeless people is overwhelming local government officials.
“We have tens of thousands of homes destroyed and many more rendered uninhabitable. I estimate there are perhaps 100,000 people who are now displaced,” Sudarshan Parshad Dhakal, a government administrator in Dhulikhel told The Guardian newspaper.
International aid agencies continue to marshal resources to assist.