It has been raining non-stop since yesterday evening. Most people are still camping outside and it is cold and damp. After-shocks continue.
Volunteers have been working around the clock since Saturday afternoon trying to assess the damage in each area, what each area is in need of, and how and when they can be reached.
NUBRI, GORKHA DISTRICT
There are two areas in Nubri – Bihi in lower Nubri and Sama in upper Nubri – which we are now focusing on helping. There are no roads up to these areas though and all of the footpaths are impassable at this time of year because of the river water. The only way of reaching these areas is by helicopter. The earthquake destroyed almost all of the houses in Nubri, but fortunately few people were killed or injured. They are in desperate need of shelter though and suffering from the rain and sudden onset cold weather. We are buying clothes and blankets for them and trying to arrange to have them dropped in by helicopter as soon as possible.
NUWAKOT & BHALAMI GAUN
Yesterday, 29th April we sent a truck up to Nuwakot district to visit the family village of one of our monks. When our group reached there, they found that fortunately the village itself was not in much immediate need. Most of the houses are still standing and the people have food. The rest of the district however is in shambles and in need of relief. The villagers there told our team of Bhalami Gaun, another village further east that was in a lot of need. So, this morning at 5am, our group set out for this area with food, shelter, and medical supplies. Bhalami Gaun is two hours drive and two hours walk from Kathmandu. The team should return this afternoon.
MELAMCHI & HELAMBU (also known as Yolmo)
In conjunction with others we are trying to arrange to send a helicopter with food, shelter, and medical supplies to Helambu from the base in Melamchi. We are trying to arrange for someone to stay at Melamchi and coordinate sending up supplies. One of our senior monks, Nono, is from this area. Most of his village has been completely wiped out in the earthquake. There used to be a few hundred residents. Now there are just 80 survivors. He has lost most of his family. We are focusing on helping two areas in Helambu: Melamchiganj and Tatan. It takes at least four hours to walk up to Tatan from Melamchi and a day and a half to walk up to Melamchiganj. The army has started clearing the roads which have been blocked by landslides, but it is hard to say how long this will take.
Yesterday a group of our monks and foreign student volunteers walked up from Melamchi to the villages in Helambu. It took them seven hours to walk up. There are no roads left. All of them have been washed away in landslides, but they walked up through the mud and rain risking their own safety. In one of the villages they found two young girls, Khandro who is 12 and Gyalmo who is 6. Both girls have suffered extreme injuries to their legs and, because of not receiving any medical help, their legs had started to decompose. Our team carried these two girls down on their backs. It took them four hours to reach Melamchi where the girls were flown by helicopter into Kathmandu where they are now receiving treatment.
Our team returned to Kathmandu last night and set off for Melamchi again this morning. Yesterday they received official permission from the army to go from Melamchi up to the Helambu villages so they will be walking up there again delivering whatever help they can.
Today we sent one truck to the Tatopani area. One of our monks is from this area and at the moment his village is completely inaccessible. Today they will drive as far as they can go, assess the situation, and help distribute food and other supplies to those in need. They had begun travelling there yesterday, but on the way the monks came across another village. Although this was not their home village (in fact they knew no one there), they were overwhelmed by the destruction they saw. There were no houses that had remained standing and people were desperate, without shelter. Up until now, no outside help had reached them. The monks decided to stop there and give them all the supplies they had in the truck – food, shelter, and basic medical supplies. They returned with the empty truck late yesterday evening and set off again early this morning.
This is an area in Solukhumbu, which has been devastated by the earthquake and is completely cut off. It can only be reached by helicopter. We are trying to commission a helicopter so we can send supplies and assistance to the people here. This is proving difficult because all of the private helicopters in the whole of Nepal are being used by the government. Just today, we were able to negotiate use of a helicopter for a rate of 6000 USD per hour. Although these helicopters are being used around the clock to help those in need, there are still a huge number of villages, in particular Buddhist villages, which are yet to receive any help.
Moreover, several days ago the Chinese organization Mercy Fund sent us several emergency tents. We have sent all but one of these tents to areas in need of shelters. This one we have set up on one of the lawns behind our Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery. We are storing some supplies there and also using it as part of our make-shift office.
Thanks to all of you who have been helping us to help those in such desperate situations, and thank you as well to those who have stayed back here in Kathmandu to help.
We are sorry we could not send many updates until now. It is has only been five days since the earthquake and until today we have been extremely busy trying to gather correct information and trying to do whatever we could to provide immediate help. At present we are focusing on the above five areas. From now on, we will be sending regular updates.
Very best wishes and enormous thanks for your help and support in these difficult times,
The CGLF team in Kathmandu