Saturday, April 25, 2015

#NepalEarthquake

Here's what I know, and it's not much:

  • An earthquake 7.5-7.8 magnitude, depending on the source, struck about 80 km (50 miles) north west of Kathmandu on the way to Pokara, a major city in Nepal, and thus a well traveled road. There were also a series of aftershocks, maybe even 15 of them up to a magnitude of 6.6. 
  • Confirmed dead is over 600 right now in Nepal and 700 total when you count India, China, and Bangladesh. 
  • There seemed to be avalanches on Mt. Everest both in the Khumbu icefall and on Pumori, the other side of the valley. All of the members of Asian Trekking are okay, and the China Tibet Mountaineering Association said that there are not reports of injuries or casualties on the north side of Everest. Apparently the Everest ER test was destroyed in an avalanche and Asian Trekking is functioning as triage center with Dr. Nima, who I will vouch for as an awesome man and very effective doctor, very busy. Dawa Steven Sherpa is in Kathmandu and he is my resource via Facebook.

Here is some background:

  • In 1934 Nepal had a similar 8.2 magnitude earthquake that did significant damage and killed over ten thousand.
  • In October 2005 in the Kashmir part of Pakistan there was a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that killed 80,000+ and displaced over two million people. I actually volunteered to go to Pakistan to use my mountaineering skills along with about 50 other mountaineers, some of them very big names, to access some of the remote locations that had been cut off from land slides, but ultimately governments and militaries stepped in to help and our little mountaineering band was deemed not necessary.
  • The Indian subcontinent is sliding up onto Asia, pushing the Himalaya higher, we all know this. Unfortunately plate tectonics don't always move nice and slowly.


Here is my speculation:

Given the poverty and ruggedness of Nepal I doubt most buildings there are built to withstand earthquakes. I also doubt that any numbers we are hearing in the media right now are accurate because communication is normally difficult due to the ruggedness in Nepal. And yes, while I imagine I could have done some good being over there in person and I have eagerly checked Everest updates this year as my friends go to camp one and two, I am rather happy this Saturday morning to be sitting in Dubuque, Iowa.

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