24-30 April 2015 #755

Families in Patan grapple with loss

Cynthia Choo and Sonia Awale

It was a typical Saturday for eight-year-old Nikesh Maharjan, who was playing in his room when his mother came calling for him. The next thing he knew, the floor below him caved in.

A 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit his home that afternoon, causing it to collapse on itself. When he finally emerged from the rubble a few hours later, he found out that more than half of his family members had perished.

He, his older brother Rupesh, his mother, Nirmala Maharjan were the only members left in his original family of seven. Nimala is still in shock two days after the quake happened. "I want to talk but it is still very difficult for me to do so," she said.

Nimala Maharjan who lost four of her family members due to the earthquake in shock while resting at a temporary shelter in Khapinche. Photo: Cynthia Choo

Nimala Maharjan's collapsed home in Khapinche. Photo: Cynthia Choo

Nikesh lives in Khapinche, Patan. He lost his father, uncle, aunt and a seven-month-old niece. "There was an earthquake. My house collapsed. I got wounds on my face and shoulders. It aches," young Nikesh recounted. His mother too suffered cuts on her face and bruises to her body.

Nikesh is now living in a cramped temporary shelter with his mother and brother in Khapinche, where water and food supplies are running low. The shelter currently houses some 100 locals seeking refuge from the continuous aftershocks.

At least a dozen houses in the Khapinche, Chyasal and Tunchigali area have completely collapsed, taking several lives along with it.

Juju Bhai lost four family members when his house in Tunchigali collapsed on Saturday. He is the sole survivor and creminated four of his family members today in Bholdhoka, Bagmati. He was too distraught to speak.

Juju Bhai cremating his family member at Bholdhoka this morning. Photo: Sonia Awale

Like many, he does not have insurance for his house and remains stranded in nearby shelters.

Shiva Shrestha, originally from Ramechap lost his wife and his young children their mother. They were running their eatery which they had bought just two months ago. According to Shrestha, one customer and a street walker died along with his wife who was buried for six hours before she could be taken out.

The Shrestha family also lost their house in Ramechap to the destructive quake, rendering them homeless in the city and village. Shrestha says he has not received word or help from the government since disaster struck on 25 April.

"All of our things are in the house. We have nothing with us except for what we are wearing" said Shrestha's older brother Kamal Bahadur.

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