Thousands sleep outside in Nepal after earthquake kills at least 157

Kathmandu: Thousands of villagers in the mountains of northwestern Nepal slept outdoors last week in the bitter cold after an earthquake killed at least 157 people and damaged or destroyed most homes. Most of the houses in villages in Jajarkot district either collapsed or were severely damaged by the sudden earthquake on November 3 night, while the few concrete houses in towns were also damaged.

“We are waiting to cremate the bodies of our villagers and have been trying to take care of the people who were injured in the earthquake,” said Lal Bahadur Bika, a resident of Chiuri village, pointing to 13 bodies wrapped in white cloth awaiting cremation. Most houses in Chiuri village collapsed.

People used whatever they could find to set up a shelter for the night, using plastic sheets and old clothes to keep them warm. Most people have been unable to retrieve their belongings from under the rubble.

Most of those killed were crushed by debris when their houses — usually made by stacking rocks and logs — crumbled under the force of the earthquake, local media reported.

While rescuers were scrambling to rush aid, operations were hampered by the fact that many of the mountainous villages could only be reached by foot. Roads were also blocked by landslides triggered by the earthquake. Soldiers could be seen trying to clear the blocked roads.

The government is trying to get aid to the affected areas, Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha said. Tents, food and medicine were flown in as thousands became homeless overnight.

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