Nepal Earthquake 2015 - three years later


Today is 25th April 2018. On 25th April 2015 Nepal earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000. It occurred at 11:56 Nepal Standard Time on 25 April, with a magnitude of 7.9Mw and a maximum Mercalli Intensity of VIII (Severe) as per the information received from national and international agencies. Its epicenter was east of Gorkha District at Barpak, Gorkha, and its hypocenter was at a depth of approximately 8.2 km (5.1 mi).It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake. The ground motion recorded in capital of Nepal was of low frequency which, along with its occurrence at an hour where many people in rural areas were working outdoors, decreased the loss of property and human life.

Homes, offices and heritage rich historic temples crumbled, roads damaged, electricity, water supply and communications made sporadic. Avalanches on Mt. Everest killed many people. We received reports from more remote areas that entire villages were destroyed without a single home left standing. Water systems in hillside villages were wrecked. Terraced farms and cattle were wiped out by the quake or subsequent landslides, destroying people's entire livelihoods.

We provided solar sets to lit bulbs and blankets to help the most vulnerable families for solving problem at night. We also helped them in planning for buying urgently-needed supplies. We provided them access to group of consultants for providing services in the areas Architecture and Engineering. We helped victims identify the nature of the structural damages of the building so that those who had building which were identified as a safe structure and helped move back to their residences from the temporary shelters. 

National and international agencies distributed emergency supplies like tarps, blankets, clothing, water purification tools, cooking utensils, towels, mosquito nets and hygiene supplies to help families survive in the days and weeks after the disaster.

We observed certain communities from urban poor catagories of Kathmandu valley did not go for accepting for relief packages during such crisis times. They took help from their relatives. However, their relatives later on started refusing to support them because of lack of resources. Most of them had damaged houses and were unemployed. They come from mostly business class community. Their business have been captured by migrant business communities. The government regulatory authorities are very corrupt allowing corrupt business men to flourish through irregularities in the government functioning and making honest local businessmen to survive in their own native land. The relief that was available meant for urban poor was unfairly distributed, and not favorable to the poor and destitute, and many people were left frustrated. This resulted from the poor planning from the government authorities who were not led by inclusive stakeholders.

Higher education had not been their priority of these catagories of communities because they were not given opportunities for recruitment from government authorites in their earlier generations. Their elders had no choice but to groom their siblings in their family business in traditional style instead of providing them higher education. In current situations because of the competition in business market and poor regulatory system adopted by the government, they have not been able to survive in the business. Hit by business famine most of them had switched over to renting the property for their survival. In order to improve their financial needs most of them went on extending  floors made of concrete structures over old building structure built by traditional building materials. Renting the floors of their building was the alternative they opted than struggling to continue with traditional way of doing the trading businesses in the market centers where they were loosing the market share. Their siblings remained unemployed or underemployed. The migrant workers facing hardships worked harder and have emerged smarter than these locals.

The relief that was available was unfairly distributed, and not favorable to the poor and destitute, and many people were left frustrated. Many had to resort to living under temporary shelters, with poor security, in some cases for several months.

Our team of volunteers reported range of issues encountered, some specific to their area of expertise but also more general issues. These included logistics and supply chain challenges, leadership and coordination difficulties, impacts of the media as well as cultural beliefs on population behavior post-disaster. Lessons identified included the need for community involvement at all stages of disaster response and preparedness, as well as the development of local leadership capabilities and community resilience. A ‘disconnect’ between disaster management policy and responses was observed, which may result in ineffective, poorly planned disaster response. We used Facebook page to capture people's problems. ( )
Finding time and opportunity to reflect on and identify lessons from disaster response can be difficult but are fundamental to improving future disaster preparedness. Our sessions offered participants the space to do this. It garnered an overwhelming sense of wanting to do things better, of the need for a Nepal-centric approach and the need to learn the lessons of the past to improve disaster management for the future.
During the fuel shortage we worked to finalize logistics and strengthen our relationships with communities, partners and the government of Nepal, which allowed our teams on the ground to quickly resume our long-term recovery efforts when fuel became available. In addition to the many worries of the survivors, thousands of mothers are worried about the future of their children. With no roof over their heads and no food to eat, with their crops buried under the rubbles and their cattles dead, the mothers are worried not just about feeding their children but also about their education and health. Since health service access remained poor during such crisis quite a number of children and elderly people lost lives. A lot of these women are uneducated, have lost their husbands and are now the sole breadwinners of their families but with their properties damaged, village reduced to rubbles, no proper knowledge and the fear of further quakes, landslides and floods threatening them, there is very less they can do on their own.

Children  (,2336 )  residing inside tents had very uncomfortable days. Internet visuals could have made them gain insights into the science of natural disasters and response handling. This is what I did inside couple of tents where parents could not be with frightened children and had difficulty getting access to resources for daily survival.
Our ancestral building is at (Budhankhel , Ward no. 18 ) in Kathmandu. This house ( ) (which survived 1934 earthquake 8.4 RS ) belonged to my parents ( ((�). This housed used to be called "YAMI CHHEN". Among the visitors in this house were Pandit Rahul Sanskrityan( ) who has written biography about my father. He had stayed in our house during his couple of visits to Nepal. Rahuljeee had also traveled from India to Lhasa with my father and used to live there together. Dr. Ambedkar ( ) who too had stayed in our house " Yami Chhen" during his visit to Nepal in 1956. Dr Ambedkar had delivered speech on Buddha or Karl Marx at Fourth Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhist, Kathmandu on 20th November 1956. Dr. Ambedkar was lodged at “Yami house” where a practical battle was fought against caste hierarchy and untouchability. His stay in Bhurankhel at the house of Dharma RatnaYami ( Tuladhar ) ( ) and Hira Devi Yami (Tuladhar) , who themselves were strong opponents of caste system and untouchability was historic. Dharma Ratna Yami, who also was a fighter for democratic movement, was a former deputy minister in the year 1951 and a writer. Probably the two scholars stayed together. Dr. Ambedkar had brought some manuscripts for his editing work during his stay in in this house.…// mother late Heera Devi Yami ( ) a freedom fighter to overthrow Rana regine of Nepal and the founder member of Nepal Woman Association, used to take charge of every thing including managing the finance for the family by renting this house. Every time she ran short of money she used to add rooms ( concrete structure over very old traditional building materials as per the advice of old traditional builders of Nepal for cleaner space etc ) and earn more from the rented rooms in order to educate her seven children and manage the financial burden of the family. She had always kept my father totally undisturbed with house hold tensions so that he could devote all his life for the development of Nepal, continue with his passion in writing books and delivering lectures in public programs both in Nepal and India. However, she died in 1970 at the age of 48.

Our tenants in our ancestral property - a teen age daughter, son and both the parents were killed when this massive earthquake struck. While fleeing from room inside of the ground floor, the door latch seemed to have got buckled due to heavy movement of building, these tenants could not open the door and were found dead with their hands on the door latch. Five story floors of western segment of that building had collapsed over these tenants.
My brother Vidhan, the cancer patient, ran to a safer structural area of the Northern part of that big building with his son, daughter and the wife as soon as he sensed the movement of the building. They hung around the safe structural area during that period. He was a civil engineer by profession and his presence of mind worked by quickly shifting towards the safer area on the third floor. After the violent shake all four of them rushed down the damaged building with dust all over their bodies with minor injuries.
I was so shocked to see the broken pieces of the concrete slabs of the top terrace of this building which I recall was built in the year 1965 with our own hands. My mother used to wait for our school holiday season so that she could get help of the daughters in order to get help for adding this top floor. This concrete structures was built over traditional old non concrete building with the help of traditional builders of those days. Lot of old houses of the old core areas of the valley had such combinations and suffered similar fate.
The earthquake tilted our neighbor's building towards the road making risky for pedestrians to move around. Continued aftershocks throughout Nepal at the intervals of 15–20 minutes, with one big shock reaching a magnitude of 6.7 RS on 12th May at 12:54:08 NST brought down most of the damaged building including this building and this fell inside our compound. This house was bought only couple of months ago by that owner. My younger sister Dr. Kayo narrowly escaped from this disaster while she was passing by this tilted building.

Machama, who worked in our house from the age of twelve, had become deaf and blind at the age of eighty and lived in the ground floor of our building. He was in the ground floor and as soon as he sensed movement of the building he managed to escape into the safer area.

We six sisters had planned a get together at one of the sister's residence at Balaju side on that particular day. My elder sister Dr. Dharma Devi Rajbhandari and her husband Mr. Madan Raj Rajbhandari had just arrived from USA to take care of my cancer patient brother, Vidhan. We were scheduled to have lunch at my brother's house on that day. However the plan was rescheduled to have lunch at Nhuchhe Shova at Balaju and luckily we all survived. I and my sister Dr. Kayo was on the way to Balaju at Balkumari road and had just boarded a public transport when the earthquake struck. Our youngest sister Hisila Yami and her husband Dr. Babu Ram Bhattrai were near earthquake epicenter Gorkha District at Barpak, Gorkha. A strong earthquake hit and the epicenter was the area near Barpak, a mountain village between capital Kathmandu and tourist town Pokhara. They had just completed delivering the speech when the violent earthquake occurred bringing maximum damages around the epicenter areas with big rocks falling on the road.


As of 7 th June 2015, over 304 aftershocks had occurred. The large number of aftershocks after the earthquake is considered normal by seismologists and these after shocks further damaged the buildings.
Our locality being one of the older core areas of the valley had lanes congested with large number of houses with old structures and new concrete floors added on top. The areas lacked open spaces. People had no place to flee except in open space compound like ours. Municipalities had not yet planned for open spaces as safety measures to respond to such natural disasters. A teen age girl in the neighbor hood compound died with the mother with three story building which came down flat over their bodies. Another neighboring lady, who in the past used to come for massaging the body of my mother and the new born baby every time my mother delivered the baby, died along with her five family members. The only surviving members of that family was a grand son, a little boy
People broke legs while they panicked jumping over our compound. There were shortage of open spaces around in the locality and people rushed into our compound climbing the wall from all directions. Large numbers of people from the neighborhood came rushing into our compound for the safety. They stayed inside our compound for more than a month because of recurring after shocks and people were instructed not the enter their residences for safety reasons.
I, with group of voulinteers, was helping people around in core affected areas of the Kathmandu valley. People couldn't enter houses for several weeks because of aftershocks. People had acute shortage of food and lacked basic resources. Handling and engaging panic stricken children was another challenge. Most of these people suffered from trauma. I also spent time in training these children of some localities inside these tents.
Elderly people who knew my mother, late Heera Devi Yami, wept over my shoulder. They told reminded us telling us how we seven children were blessed with such wonderful parents with a great personalities. They also told us that my mother including my father Late Dharma Ratna Yami how they both had provided selfless services to the needy families during their life time and used to be their true guardians and protectors. I found them missing my both parents during such critical times. People remembered them as generous, down to earth and entirely genuine persons. They made so many people happy by solving their problems during their life time. Their legacies lived in the hearts of these people and such feelings were also expressed through the published articles by people who knew them closely. During such short life span time my mother had managed to give so much to us, my father, family friends and people who knew her. She was always remembered for her amazing public work. They were recalling how my mother was remembered by people of her time for her selfless supports to provide solutions for people's problems during crisis period before her death (before A. D. 1970).
I came across some of the older ladies committing suicide after the earth quake. Young daughters and young single ladies who were being abused inside tents came crying to me for help. We heard many cases of young girls being stolen specially in rural areas of Nepal during this earthquake. I was with a pregnant lady whose due date was around that time. Taking care of this lady was really hard. Another twenty year old pregnant lady cried begging her doctor to operate her to take her child out. They had no resources. She died during delivery and the the child survived. Maternity hospitals were filled with fatal delivery cases.
The natural disaster was filled with painful stories. The emergency response handling services provided by women volunteers were found to be far superior than men during such crisis.…(, ( ) and ( ) contain copies of published articles in Heera Devi Yami.�…/www.faceboo…/HeeraDeviYami/ Large numbers people who felt safer inside ground floors of the building, however, had many tilted and damaged buildings of the neighbors.
The winds made life miserable followed by rain which made life even worst. Lanes and roads were blocked with derbies of building materials. 14000 school buildings were destroyed. The earthquake took place during holiday on Saturday otherwise those buildings could have killed and injured huge numbers of school children.
People had tough time to organize themselves to coordinate and share the pain of each other facing acute shortage of resources including food, water electricity, communication infrastructures, toiles and health services for injured people.As far as managing networking and collaboration women were found in a better position to handle such crisis. Positioning of inspection team and structural engineers was managed mobilized immediately.
People initially didn't believe the news of earthquake. I posted four time during the last two weeks before earthquake struck in Facebook. Although there were news in TV, FM and print medias, people didn't take the information seriously.
Sradhanjali program was organized at Kastha Mandap where twenty five people had died and many injured. These people were engaged in the blood donation program. Right after Sradhanjali program, I was requested by couple of women to visit the interiors of their earthquake affected buildings inside the court yard called Peega Nani . I didn't enter and warned all those ladies about possibility of another after shock possibilities any time. Very surprisingly very next day 7. 4 RS aftershock earthquake struck adding further damages. Those ladies really got surprised about my accuracy of the forecast.
Unfortunately there were cases of theft in the houses. People started ganging together to discourages such incidences. Earthquake brought most of their properties flat on the ground. Some communities who spent life by renting properties and lived in comfort zone suffered more. Low level education and lack of experiential learnings pushed them into worst situation. It was very unfortunate to see them disposing off properties in order to meet hand to mouth instead of facing challenges in life. Because of such abrupt crisis it is but natural for them to emerge slowly transforming themselves into hardworking communities.
There are certain groups of communities of Nepal whose ancestors were badly suppressed by the rulers. They have the history of working very hard, being attacked, looted by the rulers. They didn't seem to give up. They passed on those painful experiences of being looted from generations to generations. They led a life in a very simple way, never ever revolted, avoided exposing themselves about their economic status for the fear of being looted. They had their windows with pigeon holes and carved wood. Girls and daughter in-laws used to be whisked away by the rulers. They have passed on the theory of leading a resilient life style from one generation to next in order to survive in front of Tyron rulers. International communities were very surprised to observe the resilient behavior of such communities.
The older surviving generations of such communities specially from Lhasa trade communities were real role models for people in crisis of that critical period. They didn't panic and served people carefully. They could develop such methods and were passing on their old experiential learnings to be adopted by new generations because of the constant attack on the hard-earned savings by rulers and while traveling through forests on the route to Lhasa with no facility to communicate. No banking services and no parcel, postal and courier services existed those days. Half of the team mates used to vanish. The frequency of visits back home used to be once in twelve years or more. During such absence women suffered back home. Exposing the earnings through good clothes or ornaments used to be disastrous. If the wealth is exposed through the residence buildings the looter government used to mark them for looting. Under such circumstances lot of these ladies suffered with no security from any place. People used to be arrested if found in groups. The only was to get together was through the organizing sessions of worshipping and rituals at home so that people could come together for exchanging painful experiences. The community financial capital fluctuated because of the insecurities, however, the social capital always improved because of hard working nature and knowledge accumulated through lifelong learnings. The grand mothers were very empowered and who managed the revenues and expenditures within the families. The social capital was institutionalized in other survive from the attack of cruel rulers of those days. The descendant of this community never came forward to demand for their rights and were always side tracked in governing structure of the nation. Now they suffered from business famine, natural disaster and are displaced people from their native land.
The weakness of this community is their habit of spending lot of time in investing in rituals because they have been groomed as god fearing community by the religious leaders. The rulers also seemed to have engaged these innocent and genuine people dipping them more into superstitions and unproductive rituals. These people believed in engaging into ritual activities and didn't realize the importance of education. They are now caught up into resource less situations meeting the bare hand to mouth situations. They are compelled to spend on rituals because of blind faith. No wonder regions where people are engaged in religious affairs and Pandits are active promoting superstitious activities societies always remained back ward.

The experience of directly experiencing great devastation, including during the many aftershocks, meant that many people developed mental health problems and worsening of existing mental health problems. The catastrophic disaster of the earthquake increased the vulnerability of affected people to mental health and psychosocial problems. However, these increased needs were neither realized by the humanitarian agencies nor by their own communities, which were also suffering.

We focussed on people from such communities who suffered more from mental illnesses . They suffered from financial capital, Social and Cultural capital. The way forward for them now remained on trying to understand the way of transforming their new generations by improving on their intellectual capital. Our foundation is also focussing improving the livelihood of on these communities.

Kathmandu valley is called a city of temples. People even now visit temples early morning engaging themselves in ritual affairs. Most of temples are old. They had weak structures with poor maintenance. The earthquake brought most of the temples flat on the ground. After the earthquake I heard Pandits, who were engaged in collecting offerings by citizens, telling poor innocent earthquake victims that the gods of the temples diverted the earthquake damages to temples in order the to save the lives and buildings of the people. They promoted the concept of blind faith. Government should have objected to such fake information flows in the society. They should have displayed the visuals about the science of earthquake instead so that people learn to keep every details of the video record of the earthquake events that took place during earthquake for future planning.

These Pandits should have involved themselves in engaging the earth science specialists in order to educate earthquake victims. Lots of visuals are available in internet. Government should have arranged to display all these valuable visuals to make people to understand the science of earthquake. During such peak crisis period people were fed with all god fearing unscientific fake analysis instead of helping them internalizing the theory of true earth science details happening below the earth space they are residing on.

Our foundation taught them the use of Aftereffects Software in order to create visual details of what is happening around the disaster areas. Large volumes of printed materials were supplied as reading materials during disaster period. The social media like Facebook helped in reaching people for information flow. We had broadcasted four times through Facebook to inform people for earthquake preparedness just one week before 25th April 2015. Because of this news people were more receptive on what we were talking about.
We taught theories on importance of community development, community functioning, team functioning, team performance, international networking, resources mobilizations, communication skills etc to earthquake victims.
Today is 25th April 2018. The findings are that large number of citizens of earthquake affected areas are staying in unsafe risky residences. The public buildings are still not reconstructed and people are continuing to use them because of lack of alternatives. Since Nepal is in seismic zone the infrastructures are vulnerable to such disasters. This country has always been experiencing tremors affecting weak buildings. The people using such buildings should be given opportunities for enhancing their skills so that their earning capacities improves for recovering losses. Our foundation have collected such people and have provided required trainings to improve their skill sets. Government still have not brought right policies to safe guard from such vulnerability. More than 8,000 schools were damaged in the April 25 earthquake. Since this disaster happened in holiday period all those children who would have vanished got saved. During these three years time government and international agencies have been able to rebuild many schools, however, many of them still are unconstructed due to the funding shortages. We are trying to collaborate with Arvind Gupta and toys (… ) to strenghten technical skills for school children.

We are also trying to build the capacities of earthquake victims especially women and girls by providing trainings in various areas. We are also helping School and college drop outs students. We also providing trainings on Event management , Disaster management, Social Enterprise Development trainings, Software solutions for business & corporate , Mobile repairing, Technical English writing and documentary creation. We have provided training on planning for rebuilding of their physical infrastructures following the quake.
There were reports of increase of human trafficking especially women and children after earthquake. Single women and daughters are specially vulnerable groups. We are lobbying with concerned stakeholders to design special policies for such groups.


We are also planning to create a team to explore on the following issues :CAN EARTHQUAKES AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES BE PREDICTED? Progress has been made in estimating the probability of future earthquakes  )   , but scientists may never be able to predict the exact time and place an earthquake will strike. Nevertheless, they continue to decipher how fault ruptures start and stop and how much shaking can be expected near large earthquakes.

The 2015 earthquakes were an important warning for us to be better prepared for the really big one. Despite the tragic loss  Nepal got off relatively lightly three years ago for a quake of that magnitude. Lots of other factors kept the fatalities low: had it struck on a weekday many tens of thousands of school children would have been killed in the 8,000 schools that were badly damaged. Telecommunications did not go down, Kathmandu airport was back in operation within hours, and the highways remained passable.

Many of the badly-engineered ferrocement structures in Kathmandu will come down in the next big one. We will need specialised equipment and personnel trained in search, locate, rescue in collapsed concrete structures.

The Gorkha Earthquake three years ago was just a forewarning of an even bigger disaster to come. Seismologists predict two dangers we have to prepare ourselves for: one is the incomplete tension release after 2015 along faultlines below Kathmandu Valley. This could set off another quake below 8 magnitude in the next decades.

We are keen on creating an advocay group on pressurizing the government to form Council of Earth Science.

FB pages:

Website (blog) :