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Since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, Handicap International’s team of 53 staff members in Nepal has been working around the clock to address the needs of the injured in two Kathmandu hospitals. Several emergency specialists who will set up an emergency base will join them on Monday.
The situation on the ground
According to the most recent estimates more than 2,000 people have been killed, and thousands more have been injured. Five districts of the country are very badly affected. After another 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit on Sunday April 26, people who had returned home fled again and are now outside or in evacuation centers.
The situation is particularly problematic for people living in villages outside Kathmandu: the roads are blocked and communication is cut off, so the impact of the earthquake in these areas is still not clear. The airport is open and cargo planes are expected to deliver food to people living in remote areas and people staying in evacuation centers.
Handicap International in Action
One of the first NGOs to respond to the disaster, Handicap International began triaging patients and distributing wheelchairs and supplies at Kathmandu’s two main hospitals early Saturday. Teams will provide post-trauma rehabilitation in these two hospitals, providing care to injured people (e.g. head injuries, open wounds) in collaboration with orthopedic surgeons. Staff will continue to provide medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and splints. In addition, teams at the two hospitals will provide patients with psychological support and ensure they have access to food.
Handicap International’s first priority is to care for the injured people in order to prevent their injuries from becoming long-term disabilities. When an earthquake strikes, multiple fractures and spinal cord injuries are very common due to building collapses. Appropriate care must be given quickly to prevent long-term consequences.
One of the organization’s rehabilitation experts, already present in Nepal, has gone to Gorkha, the epicenter of the earthquake, with members of the International Medical Corps. They will jointly assess the needs of the people and determine a response. Another staff has gone to Pokhara, west of Kathmandu to evaluate needs on the ground.
Handicap International is preparing to intervene in the informal camps and shelters where many people need equipment for the night such as blankets and tents, as well as cooking equipment.
More teams on the way
A first team, consisting of three experts in emergency response and logistics flew to Nepal from Lyon, France, on Sunday, April 26, to reinforce the Handicap International team already on the ground. Their mission will be to evaluate the most urgent needs. They are bringing containers with tents, tarps, and satellite phones to enable our teams to work in remote areas.
On Monday morning, Handicap International will send a second emergency team and the necessary supplies for staff to set up an operational base. More emergency staff and supplies will be deployed throughout the week.