My friend and I clutched each other tightly, on knife-edge and not quite believing what was happening. We stared around in amazement as the ground moved beneath our feet, in a surreal moment I’ll never be able to really describe. The 60 seconds the quake lasted are all a bit of a blur but I do remember bricks falling, cracks appearing in the pavement and a woman losing her footing and falling to the ground.
I distinctly recall that silence fell for about a second when the ground finally stopped trembling. Then people ran as fast as humanly possible down the street, searching for shelter from the inevitable aftershocks.Whenever I mention that I was there, people’s gut-reaction is to ask about the actual earthquake. Although the noteworthy part to me was the aftermath.
One of the weirdest things was discovering what happened to the rest of the country. When you’re in the middle of something, you only see what’s right in front of you. We all knew what we had seen, and it was only when frantic calls from terrified relatives came through that we understood the magnitude of the earthquake. Almost 9,000 people dead. One million homes destroyed. Complete and utter devastation. Another thing I remember clearly is the rumours after the quake. The worst I heard was that another earthquake was about to hit at any moment. While the original quake was 7.8 on the moment magnitude scale, this rumoured follow-up was sure be an 8.5, which would have set into motion a catastrophic chain of events. The second earthquake was apparently going to trigger the eruption of a volcano which would kill us all. Cue complete and utter hysteria. It’s worth remembering that there are no volcanos in Nepal.
According to The Himalayan Times, out of the one million houses destroyed, only 41,000 have been rebuilt. There are an estimated two million Nepalese people still living in temporary accommodation. Camps are gradually being torn down with no alternative living options provided. Despite the generous aid that was sent from abroad, the Nepalese were forced to pull themselves out of the rubble and get back to normal life. It’s nonsensical that I, a foreigner who was only marginally affected by the earthquake, was better protected in their own country than they were. The problem is that there are so many disasters around the world, it’s very hard to help everyone. But at the very least, on the second anniversary of the earthquake, we should show the Nepalese people that they’re not as alone as they might think.