Nepal Earthquake 2015 essay



Nepal is an LEDC located in Asia with a HDI of 0.602, it is a seismic hotspot and the 11th most earthquake prone country in the world. Nepal lies on a collision margin, involving the Indian and Eurasian plates which are both continental and made from granite. On the 25th April 2015, an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude occurred causing major destruction across the country, with 9000 deaths and over 23,000 injuries. it was the deadliest earthquake in the seismically active region in 80 years. 

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Before the earthquake

The impact of the earthquake was made worse due to the high rates of poverty in Nepal. The geology surrounding the country wasn't mapped, infrastructure did not meet building regulations and highrates of urbanisation has caused an increase in informal settlements, making urban areas more dense, creating a domino effect. The Nepalese had low salience on how to react as there had been no earthquake previous to the disaster. A large number of the population chose to live on floodplains and valleys which are more susceptible to destruction by secondary hazards such as landslides and avalanches. Nepal had poor preparation and planning therefore more Nepalese are at risk from disaster. 

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Immediate response

The immediate response of the earthquake saw people panic and in distress. In urban areas such as Kathmandu there was a lack of co-ordination, dead bodies were left  in open areas increasing the risk of contamination. People were trying to salvage dead bodies from the rubble with help from tourists but it was slow as they had to use their hands and many people died within the first 24 hours. Many access routes were blocked, preventing emergency services to reach injured people, increasing the death toll. The government were giving people $150, however only those who could be reached received it putting families under stress and pressure. Many people were isolated without any help. 

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After the Earthquake (aftershocks)

After the initial earthquake, there were 300 aftershocks within the first 6 weeks. One major aftershock occurred on the 12th may 2015, with a magnitude of 7.3, killing 200 people and left 2,500 injured. This caused major secondary hazards with landslides triggered by tremors and monsoon rain which buried villages in the Langtang region. An avalanche which was 2-3km wide killed 300 people. This left many villages unreachable as access routes were blocked, preventing aid, rescue and relief operations and daily supplies coming into Nepal so the disaster was prolonged with more impacts. 

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Future plans

In order for Nepal to improve the preparedness plans for future seismic activities the Nepal government has realised they need to improve their disaster risk reduction (DRR). The geology needs to be further developed with their seismic network and mapping, the architecture needs to be reinforced to withstand ground shaking and the government needs to enforce building regulations to improve urbanisation. The DRR short-term priorities include making improvements using the build back better (BBB) principle. The purpose of the BBB principle is to have experienced people make decisions and re-build buildings with reinforcements putting priority buildings first such as schools and healthcare facilities, however this is being prevented by Nepal being an LEDC with many in poverty

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In conclusion, it is clear to see that the Nepalese have poor salience towards building in hazardous areas and how to react, this extends to all levels. The success at preparing and responding to an earthquake can be linked to HDI, funding can be improved from external sources increasing wealth, education can be improved by increasing salience and health through aids and clinics. However, tectonic hazards cannot be predicted and so are haro to prepare for which often takes experience of a hazard to gain salience. According to Deggs model, earthquakes cannot be fully avoided and LEDC populations are more at risk with more overlap.

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