The Quake's Impact on the Langtang Valley, Nepal

Posted on: April 28, 2015


Langtang Lirung (7277m) [Photo] John C Sill/Wikimedia Commons

With much of the news focus on Nepal's devastating earthquake of April 25 centering on Kathmandu and Everest Base Camp, other regions devastated by the 7.8 magnitude quake have received less attention. Yet many rural areas closest to the quake's epicenter, 80 kilometers north of Kathmandu in Lamjung, have also seen calamitous destruction, with numerous fatalities, and people in dire need of medical attention and basic supplies. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for Asia Pacific Jagan Chapagain stated: "We are extremely concerned about the fate of communities in towns and villages in rural areas closer to the epicenter." Chapgain said that access roads have been damaged or blocked by landslides, with downed communications preventing the IFRC from reaching local Red Cross branches to get accurate information. "We anticipate that there will be considerable destruction and loss of life," he said.

One such affected area is the Langtang Valley north of Kathmandu (and bordering on Tibet), home of Langtang National Park and many popular trekking peaks, most of them sub-7000 meters. According to reports on Nepal Television (NTV), via a tweet from reporter Michael Holmes at CNN, the valley is "completely destroyed." And according to myrepublica.com, Chief District Officer Uddhav Prasad Bhattarai stated that the village of Langtang was engulfed by an avalanche triggered by the quake, with more than 100 people feared dead, the roadway partially blocked and 90 percent of the district's houses damaged.

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The American alpinist Colin Haley, with his French climbing partner Aymeric Clouet and Clouet's family, was in the far end of the Langtang Valley, close to the earthquake's epicenter, on an exploratory mission when the quake hit. As Haley told his girlfriend, Sarah Hart, over satellite phone, "I was thrown 100 feet through the air"—but was not seriously injured. As of April 28, when Hart spoke to Haley, the Clouets had been evacuated. Haley is waiting in place and working with the villagers for now.

The Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police have been carrying out rescues of stranded tourists and villages.

Getting aid to Nepal's mountain villages remains difficult, Peter Oyloe, who works for Save the Children, told The New York Times, "Trying to deal with geography, trying to get to those people, the most vulnerable especially up in the high mountains, is very difficult." According to another New York Times update: "The United Nations says 8 million people have been affected by the weekend earthquake in Nepal that killed nearly 4,400 people and 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance, but the challenge would be to reach them." Sumzah Lama, an earthquake survivor whose village lay close to the border to Tibet, told the The New York Times that above her home, "The hills all came down."

Click here for a list of relief organizations.

Sources: Sarah Hart, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, My Republica, Quartz India