Witness says for Bara & Parsa districts, yesterday’s storm was deadlier than Nepal earthquake 2015


1 April 2019: A community leader in southeastern Nepal claims the deadly storm that swept through villages yesterday evening could well have been, for Bara and Parsa districts at least, much more destructive than the 2015 Nepal earthquake itself.

Birgunj-based social activist Prakash Tharu told southasia.com.au that he and a team of doctors and volunteers from Birgunj city were one of the early responders to the devastating rainstorm.

Citing local government authorities, Mr Tharu today gave the latest death toll: 36 in total between Bara and Parsa districts. Most damages occurred in villages in the vicinity of Birgunj, he said.

Speaking over telephone, Mr Tharu said the devastating storm lasted for a very short time. The most destructive part of the storm lasted two to three minutes only although it continued for almost half an hour thereafter – from around 7 to 7:30 pm local time in Nepal.

The power of the storm was so dangerous that it destroyed at least half the “tube-wells” in the affected villages.

“It went like a river, sir. Wherever it went, it destroyed everything on its way. It think it started from somewhere near Birgunj and meandered through various villages and then it died down after travelling around 20-22 kilometres,” Mr Tharu stated speaking in Nepali language.

He explained that the areas that did not fall on the narrow path of the storm were all right but the villages that fell right on its track were the ones completely destroyed.

In a country like Nepal where the government does not have the resources or the preparedness to tackle natural calamities of this kind, people usually fend for themselves in the beginning. Yesterday was no exception.

When Mr Tharu posted a Facebook post following the storm to call for help with blood supply for the injured undergoing treatment at the hospitals, the response of the local youths was overwhelming.

Prakash Tharu

Within hours he had hundreds of people queuing up to donate blood. “We could not take blood from all of them. So we had to turn them back after taking their phone numbers,” the community leader said in a telephone conversation.

“The hospital in Birgunj was short in blood group AB+ but within a short time we had 28 people with that group lining up to donate,” Mr Tharu said through a crackling telephone line.

Officers from Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and the Nepal Army are now helping villagers with their bare hands. Villagers in the worst hit areas have welcomed the way Nepali security forces have responded to the disaster. The roads could not have been re-opened without the timely deployment of the security personnel.

Locals cheered the security forces earlier today when they rescued a 70-year-old almost 12 hours after she was buried under the rubble of her daughter’s home.

Tent, mosquito nets and blanket have been mentioned as the most critical supplies at the moment.

Earlier on, the physical infrastructure minister of the Province No. 2, Jitendra Sonal, criticised Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, “There can be no rescue by merely inspecting from helicopter. There are no tents for people, they don’t have resources. You should rather drop some tents for the people,” a news website quoted him as saying.

There are around 600 people still receiving treatment at local hospitals in Bara and Parsa districts, it is understood.

A man sits next to a pile of rice the rainstorm exposed to the elements I Photo: Prakash Tharu
A young boy rests amid the destruction left behind by the storm I Photo: Prakash Tharu
A mountain of rubble I Photo: Prakash Tharu

 

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