Day 3: Tragic 7.9 Earthquake hits Nepal, 1500 Confirmed Dead

Now I am become Death, and the Destroyer of worlds. – Bhagavad Gita

Almost 24 hours later, the tears are coming more and more. I don’t know what to do except to spread the message about what just happened in Nepal.

Yesterday at 11:56 a.m. Nepali time, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake occurred 50 miles outside of Kathmandu with Lamjung as the epicenter. I was in Kathmandu only three days ago. Although my body was in Varanasi, my heart and soul were still in Kathmandu and Nepal. I may be living, but I feel my heart has been shattered. It seems now the plans that I had for India are trivial compared to what they are going through there and it is hard for me to go on.

According to the Guardian, Vim Tamang, a resident of Manglung, near the epicenter responded, “Our village has been almost wiped out.” “Most of our houses are either buried by landslide or damaged by shaking.” He reported that half of the village’s population was missing or dead. “All the villagers have gathered in the open area. We don’t know what to do.”

My friend Ang who works at the guesthouse I was staying at mentioned on Facebook how, “I saw death in front of my eyes.” Another man I recently met named Alex from England described that it “felt like a huge wave beneath us and I was nearly sick like a sea sick feeling and dizzy. I saw many people being sick right afterwards … very surreal.”

I have been in Nepal seven of the last thirteen months. How I managed to leave two days before the quake hit I am not exactly sure. I mentioned in a few blog posts back how I feel “protected” or “guided” when I am in Nepal and this is an example of this in action. Why did I leave twelve days before my 90-day visa expired when, 9 times out of 10, I stay the maximum amount allowed on any visa I use? At least now I am able to help out their cause from a standpoint of relative safety and I promise to do my best to bring them the support they need at this moment.

UN Nepal has put out an initial report and here are a few main points:

  • Most affected areas are Gorkha and Lamjung Districts (north-west of Kathmandu). Damage in Kathmandu Valley limited to historical densely built up neighbourhoods.
  • Latest government figures on total causalities are between 700 – 1000. This is expected to increase.
  • Government has called emergency meeting with CNDRC followed by Emergency Core Clusters.
    Updates on this to be shared shortly.
  • Total affected population not yet determined but 30 of 75 districts are reported to be affected.

I could feel the earthquake here in Varanasi as my bed shook violently for at least a minute on the 4th floor of the guesthouse. It reminded me of the tremors I felt in Japan except longer and stronger. For some reason I knew instantly where it was originating from. I have studied earthquakes in Nepal’s past for some time and I remember writing quite a bit in my journal about it a few years back. Here are a few photos from the last one that occurred in 1934.

image

Here is a picture of Kathmandu Durbar Square that I took last week before the earthquake.  I meditated in the temple in the middle almost everyday.

 

Here is a picture of it after the earthquake hit.

Now here is a picture of Bhaktapur Durbar Square in the 1934 8.0 earthquake with an epicenter in Bihar, Nepal.

image
Initially, it looks like the damage during this earthquake is much worse than the one 81 years ago.

Here is a shot of the damage to the Dharahara tower in Kathmandu after the 1934 earthquake in Nepal.  National Seismological Centre Nepal.

image
Here is a shot of the damage done to the rebuilt Dharahara tower yesterday.



As you can see, the damage seems to be worse again as the building fell to the bottom floor this time. As of this writing, 180 people have been confirmed to have died in this tower. I walked by this place everyday as it was near where I was staying this past trip. Something kept telling me over and over “go up in this temple” and yet I never did. I pray for those who were trapped in this during the shaking and I can’t imagine what it must have been like.

In the 1934 earthquake, 16,000 people lost their lives perhaps because of a lack of response time and emergency funds. The death toll is officially over 1,500 for this earthquake, but it may be much higher because of how spread out Nepal is. The buildings are generally built cheaply and do not go by any sort of “earthquake code”. Hopefully, with a quick response time and emergency funds pouring in from around the world, the death toll will be stemmed and Nepal will rebuild itself once again

This “big one” was predicted for many years as Nepal has had one every 80 to 90 years. I think Kasthamandap is also gone. It was built in the 16th century from a single tree supposedly. If this building fell and it survived the previous earthquakes we can start to see the true magnitude of this quake.

Throughout the day, people in Varanasi were mostly outside because of the fear of aftershocks. Varanasi is built much like Kathmandu, with temples and ruins built on-top of temples and ruins; not exactly the safest place to be during an earthquake.

Last time this occurred, Gandhi visited Nepal soon afterwards.



Hopefully we can get a “Gandhi-esque”  response from around the world to help those affected.  I have many friends in Nepal that I consider to be family.  I will keep a close eye on how this develops and will find out the best possible way for people to donate money or resources to someone or somewhere that will be put to the best use.

So far I have heard from many friends there and everyone has responded that they and their families are ok. The only way that I could find out though if a friend has died is if they were friends with another one of my friends on Facebook. Perhaps, they will put out a list soon. I have tried not to think about it.

I am very sad though as I feel obligated to be there for my Nepali friends and family as well as all of the amazing foreigners that I know are currently there. I am 100% positive there is no country in the world that will pick itself up as fast as Nepal will and that makes me feel better. I am sure that the new Kathmandu will be stronger, safer, and better than ever, but it will be very difficult to see it different than I remember it. Nearly all the ancient temples have vanished. How do you replace something like that?

I promise to stay strong on my own journey and to send metta, love and compassion to the Nepali people everyday from now on. Please send prayers and support to Nepal when possible. Although I do not know which is best, CNN has put together a list of around 10 different organizations who are collecting money and resources. Furthermore, here are a few links to donate support.

List of places accepting donations from CNN

Link for Voygr that has credible organizations accepting donations.

Facebook link for the Nepal Relief Effort

List of daily expenses and donations for April 25th, 2015:

Total spent on travel: $0

Total spent on food: $3.39

Total spent on room: $3.97

Random: $1.16

Total: $8.52 + past $30.99 used = $39.51 divided by four days = $9.85 each day.

Donations given to random strangers in need = 20 Indian rupees

Donations given to sadhus or holy men = 115 INR

Total = $2.17 + past $55.11 given = $57.28 divided by four days = $14.32 each day

(I was a bit sick today and trying to find out information about the earthquake all day.)

Expense account = $519.12 – 8.52 = $510.65 (Avg $9.85 each day will last 52 more days)

Donations account = $494.90 – 2.17 = $492.73 (Avg $14.32 each day will last 34 more days)

He woke up dripped in sweat with a hot coal burning in his gut. What was this feeling? Sickness had become merely a memory of the past. Now once again it was real and destroying him from within.

What could it have been from? The street food? The lassi? One of the many cups of water he drank from the local establishments? Shiva’s anger at not partaking in the ceremonial toking of the chillum?

Either way, something had to be done. He ran to the toilet and couldn’t figure out which way it needed to go out first. Hot tip. Pull the trigger first when there is no toilet paper to be found. One, two, three times it flowed. Pressure was released. Electrolytes. He needed electrolytes. Note to always bring one extra bag for emergencies such as this.

He didn’t look down upon the sickness. For him, it was just another obstacle or even a “gift” from India that is always given eventually. Perhaps the sickness was always inside him, but India had the “cure” to bring it out of him and to the surface to be eradicated.

Slowly, the sickness will go away and the journey will continue. It is impossible for anyone to be permanently sick… If they believe it.

(The earthquake hit when I was typing this.)

To top things off, an earthquake began to shake  the hotel he was staying at, knocking out the power and ceiling fan.

Someone was letting it be known, this wasn’t going to be an “easy” trip.

It’s weird that I felt so sick right before this happened. Finally as the sickness was going away, the earthquake hit.

I will go now and do the thing that I am best at, meditating and sending my love and metta to the people of Nepal. I am sorry that this is all that I can do for now and I am constantly thinking about you all.

Blessed.

Published by

This American Sadhu

Wandering traveler, writing a story, contemplating spiritual stuff, living austere, and helping random strangers... all rolled into ONE. What fun!

4 thoughts on “Day 3: Tragic 7.9 Earthquake hits Nepal, 1500 Confirmed Dead”

  1. Very interesting article. Thank you for all the love for Nepal. I felt sick as well when earthquake happened. You are so lucky that you got chance to meditation in Durbar square.
    Thx again !!

    Like

    1. Thanks Nepali sadhu, I feel so very fortunate to have spent all the time that I have in Nepal the past 5 years and to have seen a lot of the places that no longer are there. I still feel sick but am trying to turn my emotions into action. I am 100% sure that Nepal will get back up on it’s feet and will be stronger than it was before… and it won’t take that long to happen…

      Like

  2. I look back on this reading to remember pain I felt then because now I can only seem to feel pain from hearing the news about the second earthquake on May 11, 2015.

    Like

  3. Hi, it feels weird looking at the pictures at the temple where I had sat the day before…….I would not be here now leaving this message. Only 4 days into a trip of a lifetime, but in love with Nepal already. I woke up feeling seasick and decided not to go for my first solitary walk about without my son. We are so lucky and the pain of what we saw happen to lovely people will never leave…..I will return one day. Namaste.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s