Nepal hit with second major quake in 17 days

NEPAL (BP) -- A powerful new earthquake rattled Nepal on Tuesday (May 12), killing at least 36 people and sending thousands more rushing to the streets.

The 7.3-magnitude quake came just 17 days after a massive earthquake killed 8,046 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. Tuesday's tremor set off a series of landslides at the epicenter, Namche Bazar, which is near Mount Everest.

Today's earthquake will add to the dismal statistics as rescue workers once again begin the arduous task of digging out.

Southern Baptist relief teams were already on the ground in Nepal from the earlier quake, and are well-positioned to investigate the new damage and emergency needs. The teams have been providing aid for a country still picking up the pieces from the 7.8-magnitude quake that hit April 25.

Baptist Global Response, the Southern Baptist humanitarian organization with which IMB partners in disaster response, is coordinating the efforts. BGR's Nepal Earthquake Response will continue to help hurting people with basic survival needs -- like water, shelter, food and healthcare -- in the coming days.

Francis Horton, who is coordinating the earthquake response for BGR, said one of his teams was on the mountain when the quake hit. As they descended in their truck, they found a house newly collapsed on the side of the road. They stopped to offer help. Thankfully, the family was outside their home when it fell, and the team was able to provide some comfort for scared villagers.

"This quake really brought back nightmarish memories for many people," Horton said. "Immediately, businesses shut doors and buildings emptied into the streets."

Today's quake hit 47 miles east of the capital of Kathmandu on the way to Everest Base Camp. It could be felt as far away as Delhi, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Landslides cut off roads to the main town in this isolated, conservation area near the border of Tibet.

One local Nepali pastor asked for prayer as reports of two major landslides have caused havoc in the area on top of damage from the today's earthquake.

Strong tremors were felt in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, and the other areas affected by last month's quake. Rumors of another large earthquake circulated the country for weeks. With more than 100 aftershocks the first week, hundreds of thousands slept outside in tarps or under the open sky as they feared buildings would come crashing down around them. That same fear is now magnified.

Within an hour of the 12:35 p.m. quake, survivors of the last disaster had reset their tents outside and planned to sleep under tarps and tents again.

"Looks like it will be another night outside," a local Christian posted on Facebook. He was in the exact same building as when the April 25 quake hit. He said the building in Kathmandu shook and swayed; then, everyone ran out to the streets in a panic.

"Everyone is too frightened to sleep inside tonight," he wrote. His family will be sleeping under a tarp provided through BGR relief funds. "The aftershocks are still going and we have no idea if buildings are safe."

The scale of loss of buildings is still not clear from the April 25 quake. Nepal's National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) estimates around 299,588 homes were destroyed and 269,107 were damaged in the first earthquake. They still had thousands more to check out for stability before this May 12 tremor hit.

BGR is working with a Southern Baptist partner from Colorado to check out as many homes as possible. The volunteer, who is an architect, was caught in the first earthquake with a Colorado team up in the mountains. He opted to extend his stay to work with local believers in assessing homes -- one of the greatest needs to help Nepalis start to rebuild.

Horton said BGR will continue its plan of "Disaster to Development," with added attention to the immediate needs generated by today's earthquake.

"We are seeking to meet needs as we find them and to implement a plan that will be a six-to-12 month response," Horton said, adding that BGR is partnering with local churches in this response. "People in the hills are already beginning to construct shelter that will get them through the rainy season. We want to help them along in this process so they can attend to other issues, such as farming the crops that will be food security for next year.

"They are determined to reconstruct. They need to get family life back to normal," he said. "We want to help them do that. We want to be the hands and feet of Christ."

Learn more about how you can help at gobgr.org/.

Susie Rain is an International Mission Board writer based in Asia.
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