Fears for family after second Nepal quake

Prakash Maharjan and Sulochana Aryal outside the Gurkha Spice NNL-150429-124702001
Prakash Maharjan and Sulochana Aryal outside the Gurkha Spice NNL-150429-124702001

A Banbury restaurant worker has spoken of his renewed fear for family members after a second earthquake struck Nepal on Tuesday.

At least 48 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured when the 7.3 magnitude quake began 68km west of the town of Namche Bazar in Eastern Nepal – a short distance from Mount Everest.

Prakash Maharjan, 52, said the tremors were felt in the city’s capital Kathmandu, where his family has been living in tents since the crisis began almost three weeks ago.

This includes Mr Maharjan’s wife Sarita and his brothers Prabat and Pranesh. His 29-year-old niece Sulochana Aryal has also been separated from her husband Bishnu and their two children Pawan, 14, and Sony, who is 13.

Tonight will be their 19th night out in the open in the cities of tents that now fill Kathmandu’s open spaces including parks, squares and even a nine-hole golf course that previously entertained members of Nepal’s Royal Family.

Mr Maharjan, a chef at the Gurkha Spice restaurant on Broad Street, said: “I have spoken to my wife and they are fine, but the situation is really difficult. I have seen the footage of what happened and it was really, really terrifying. I have also seen mobile footage which was really horrific.

“Most of the people in Kathmandu have not suffered this situation before.”

Mr Maharjan said his family have been forced to eke out a precarious existence in Kathmandu, cooking in their home despite the damage the structure has suffered in the quakes and their subsequent aftershocks. However, it is not yet clear if they will be able to return at all. “They have to be examined”, Mr Maharjan said. “ It could be unsafe; any moment it could collapse.”

The first powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred on Saturday, April 25, killing at least 8,000 people and destroying much of Nepal’s infrastructure.

Foreign aid has been pouring into the country through Kathmandu’s only airport, but relief has been slow to reach outlying areas and there has been mounting public anger against the central government’s handling of the crisis.

Nepal’s monsoon season is due to begin in June and it appears that many people forced from their homes will be seeking shelter from the deluge in the tents and other temporary accommodation donated by the international community.

Mr Maharjan added: “The conditions will get worse and more people will suffer.”

Banburyshire residents have been supporting local groups fund-raising for the earthquake appeal.

A planned charity meal at Broughton Grounds Farm in North Newington on Sunday, June 28 is under threat as so far only ten people have signed up to take part. The meal will feature traditional food, a talk on the crisis and entertainment.

Tickets costing £20 can be purchased from Gurkha Spice restaurant on 16 Broad Street.

This includes Lianne Piper and John Elsey of Middleton Cheney, who are part of a 15 strong project team building a new secondary school in the Chitwan region of Nepal.

The couple are looking for support from individuals and local businesses for the project, which will see the existing dilapidated school replaced with a new building with six new classrooms, educational equipment and piped water.

If you would like to make a donation you can do so at www.aidcamps.org/liannepiper.aspx or www.aidcamps.org/johnelsey.aspx.