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Disaster and resilience in Nepal

Since 25 April when the first earthquake flattened large parts of Kathmandu and surrounding areas, Nepal has been devastated. The media frenzy focused at first on the mounting death toll (now thought to be well over 8500), and then on the second quake east of Kathmandu. On Everest, 18 climbers were killed when avalanches stormed through Base Camp as a result of the quakes.

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In Monday's Panorama programme, Disaster on Everest, Tom Martienssen brought all this to life: watch it on iPlayer here. (I've watched it twice already, and will return to watch again.) He speaks of how his reporter's "dream job" of covering the Gurkha team's attempt on the summit turned to nightmare: they were stranded at Camp 1 with avalanches above and below, with food and fuel running out, all thoughts of the summit overtaken by the need to survive.

After returning to the devastated Base Camp, he is lucky enough to be rescued by helicopter, and returns to Kathmandu where refugees who are barely subsisting in tents insist on giving him food. Bravely, he goes to meet the widows and children of the sherpas who died at Base Camp supporting the Gurkha team including himself. His interviews seem unscripted, sensitively filmed and are very moving. At times, he is lost for words.

He joins a lorry with relief supplies on a gruelling 48-hour journey, with many punctures, to villages such as Priti whose remoteness has made them hard to reach with help. He meets villagers rebuilding their road, literally with their bare hands, stone by stone.

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Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries, and its lack of infrastructure and hand-made buildings are making the efforts to rebuild painfully more difficult. In a country where education is vital, more than 1 million pupils have had their classrooms wrecked. After the initial shock, grief and horror, in Martienssen's words, "for those left behind the struggle to rebuild their country is only just beginning". The Nepalis are bravely setting about reconstruction and trying to restore normality to shattered lives. Their resilience and generosity is overwhelming.

Worldwide, many people donated when the earthquake first struck, but once the media lose interest it would be too easy for Nepal to be forgotten. It's great that the BMC has created an eBay auction in aid of Community Action Nepal, Doug Scott's charity. There's a celebrity-laden set of prizes ranging from a Lakeland walk with Chris Bonington and Doug Scott to having tea with Michael Palin. The eBay bidding opens on 28 June and will be followed by a second auction starting on 2 July. Read more about it here.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 26, 2015 11:38 AM.

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