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April 27, 2015

Nepal devastated by deadly earthquake

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At least 4,000 people are dead and 6,500 injured after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday.

The earthquake displaced thousands, destroyed ancient architecture and left many of the country’s 27 million residents without electricity, water or medical supplies.

In Nepali capital Kathmandu, thousands of people are sleeping outside after their homes were damaged or destroyed. Many people fear that sleeping inside would put them at risk from another building collapse, as aftershocks continue to shake the region, according to Ellen Barry, a reporter at The New York Times.

Medical help is in extremely short supply for victims of the earthquake. Hospitals are overflowing and there is not enough gauze and medications, Barry said. Access to water is another problem: many stores have run out of bottled water.

The earthquake also killed and stranded climbers on Mt. Everest, where at least 200 people have been rescued.

International aid efforts are underway, but Nepal’s congested roadways will make it difficult for supplies to reach villages and cities. Some rescue efforts have not yet reached the smaller villages in Nepal, including those close to the epicenter of the earthquake about 50 miles northwest of the capital. Information trickling in suggests some of those villages have been completely destroyed.

Nepal’s fragile political situation will make recovery even more difficult. After a 10-year civil war ended in 2006, the country struggled to write a constitution for several years. In the 2013 elections, Nepal’s Communist party was unexpectedly defeated, leading to political uncertainty.


Warm up questions
  1. What causes earthquakes?
  2. Where is Nepal?
Critical thinking questions
  1. What challenges will Nepal face as it begins to recover from this earthquake?
  2. How can the international community help Nepal with relief efforts?
  3. Is it possible for countries to prepare for natural disasters like the earthquake? If so, how?
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