The emphasis now turns towards getting supplies delivered to those rural settlements fast running out of food. Contributions to the relief effort are gathering pace across the Lakeside area as tourists and locals band together to organize and distribute aid to those quake effected zones. The Pokhara airport is the main focus of attention as the Indian air force take up residence and the local medi setup camp beside the terminal.
Saturday, 27 June 2015
Monday, 15 June 2015
Life after the Quake....
I don't know how but I managed to sleep albeit a restless night trying to anticipate the signs of an impending Earthquake. It's impossible of course, there just is no warning whatsoever. A small ground shudder sent everyone running around 10pm last night - it's over before I can reach the staircase!
Monday, again the TV is saturated with images of damage, death and despair, and news now of flattened villages in the rural districts. Not surprising since construction there is poor and often on shaky foundations anyway. Rescue and relief is paramount now with news stations listing those countries sending help - India and China are the big players with equipment while developed nations are send personnel to help dig out those trapped in rubble. Middle East and Europe are sending food aid as space at the Kathmandu airport is fast running out.
Tuesday, a better nights sleep as the the ground motions seem less noticeable and at larger time intervals, although how much of it is imaginary, we'll I just don't know. Every subtle ground motion felt here in Pokhara translates to a significant aftershock emanating from the original rupture at Gorkha near Kathmandu. Buildings continue to fall, landslips are still occurring blocking access routes to those hill communities.
Pokhara airport is now a base for the Indian Air force relief mission - a stomp down to the end of the runway today and the place is busy with a Queue of waiting ambulances amid the mountain of food and water piling up by the passenger terminal. Seven helicopters and a transport plane occupying pretty much all the tarmac space. Crowds of on-lookers are gathered along the perimeter road as the arriving choppers offload bodies, stretchered away to the waiting ambulances, load up with supplies and off again, towards the Gorkha district just North-West of Pokhara.
Wednesday, subtle ground motions continue, sometimes swaying otherwise a succession of vibrations lasting 1/2 second. Residents camping on the grazing meadow are resigned to being there for sometime as government warns that further quakes may occur. Pokhara Lakeside is beginning to fill with tourists, namely those who we're trekking as the quake hit are slowly arriving in the the town. It's become something of a transient place, Trekkers and their guides with little to do but mill around making the best of things as they wait for information. As for me, we'll the best thing to do right now is stay put, at worst I can get a bus south to the Indian border - it's an option as south and west Nepal are unaffected - the only option right now as the international airport isn't taking civil flights.
Wednesday, 10 June 2015
Sunday afternoon and evening....
Everyone is rattled - a few more tents have appeared on the grazing meadow and the atmosphere is subdued. An aftershock, or was it another quake? Doesn't matter, the effect is just the same! Given that Pokhara is a fairly new town, construction is able to absorb the seismic activity that Nepal is subject to right now. Tourists are continuing to reside in their hotels, a few bars remain open along the Main Street - actually it looks like business as normal for the seemingly unconcerned tourists. Personally, I admit to being somewhat anxious - will there be more, perhaps a big one, who knows?
TV news is still in overdrive, every channel, even that 70's Bollywood movie Chanel, have given way to coverage of the devastating quake. The PM appeals for aid, help, anything anyone can give. The country is fast running out of resources as the Army are deployed to Kathmandu. He appeals for helicopters from anyone, anywhere as the country's poor infrastructure have left rural communities stranded. The Kathmandu death toll is fast rising, every hour a new figure arrives.
6.30pm, the ground rumbles again and it's a fast exit outside onto the street. Just a small vibration lasting 1/2 a second but it's enough to have everyone scurrying away from any building. Anxiety and sleep don't go hand-in-hand, a restless night ahead despite reassurances that the hotel is strong. Is the ground moving again? Seems to be a subtle swaying motion, it could be my imagination!
Sunday, 7 June 2015
Sunday Afternoon, Another Shock.
1pm Sunday afternoon and folk seem slightly less apprehensive. There hasn't been any seismic activity since yesterday - April 25th 2015, The day of infamy, now being referred to by the media as the "Great Quake". An encampment of about 12 tents still pitched on the grazing meadow, temporary home to some of the more vulnerable families in those pebble and clay clad'd structures.
No reply yet from my email sent to the guesthouse I had been bunking down in just hours before the rupture - although I do know Kathmandu wasn't completely flattened and the tourist hotspot of Thamel on the whole escaped the worst according to postings on 'Thorn tree Forum' - a glimmer of hope then that Ram Singh and family have survived.
It's a warm sunny afternoon, kids playing games on the meadow, squealing, laughing and carefree. Just about everyone based locally has gathered, sitting in family groups, sharing their spicy snacks and talking over the events unfolding in Kathmandu and across the rural districts of Nepal. It's becoming apparent that rural localities are feared worst off with supply routes cut - no access to the hills it seems.
Without warning, here it is! The ground moves left and slightly rises, then to the right with a succession of vibrations. Kids screaming running to their parents as the shopping centre nearby sways with people on the balconies running. The large glass windows rattling, pounding and ready to explode. It's the noise coming from the ground, that's the frightening aspect of this quake, that and of course the unknown quantity of this latest shock at 1.30pm - thankfully it's over in 2 seconds. An eerie feeling descends as folk contemplate what has just happened. News is spreading that it was an aftershock of 6.7 magnitude and originating from yesterday's main quake - further damage in Kathmandu and the rural districts. Thankfully, the shopping centre here has survived in one piece, no reports yet of any other damage in Pokhara.
Friday, 29 May 2015
Fear of the unknown...
Sunday morning dawns and undoubtedly the horror story that is Nepal Earthquake 2015 will start to unfold as TV coverage go's into overdrive. Right now the world is focused on Kathmandu and local News Chanel's have no qualms showing dead bodies, dead children being pulled from rubble, the grief is immeasurable - I have to turn it off.
Pokhara has escaped unscathed with the exception of a few cracked structures. Thankfully the place, especially the tourist hot spot of Lakeside is relatively new with construction of better standard. It's certainly the safest place to be right now.
The fear of the unknown quantity - when, where and how big is the question on everyone's mind. A question even the experts don't have an answer to but they tell us to expect aftershocks and possibly more quakes in the days to come.
Life around here is adapting to the situation. Traders are still trading but with a degree of caution but others remain closed. Cafés are running a skeleton service - rice, vegetable curry and tea, eat it fast! In between meals families are congregating on the grazing meadow where a tented village has sprung up. People are frightened, they may not show it but there is a real sense fear among the community around here.