Nepal marks one year since quake amid rising frustration

A baby who miraculously survived last year's deadly Nepal earthquake at two-days-old, is still living in a makeshift shed as his family awaits support to reconstruct their flattened home.
Nepalese residents gather to light candles during a vigil to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake in Durbar Square in Kathmandu, on April 24, 2016.
Nepalese residents gather to light candles during a vigil to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake in Durbar Square in Kathmandu, on April 24, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

KATHMANDU • Nepal held memorial services yesterday for the thousands killed in a massive earthquake one year ago, as victims still huddled in tents across the country accused the government of failing them.

Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli laid flowers at a destroyed 19th- century tower in Kathmandu, where hundreds gathered to remember the devastating quake that ripped through the impoverished Himalayan nation.

Buddhist monks in maroon robes also held prayers at the site of a popular temple destroyed in the 7.8-magnitude quake that killed nearly 9,000 people.


Around 100 people protested near the Prime Minister's office, demanding the government begin rebuilding.

Ms Chhuldim Samden, a 21-year- old student, said she was fed up with waiting for help as she and her family struggle to survive in a shack in the capital.

"Even after one year, so many people are staying in tents, we are still living in a shack," said Ms Samden, as she took part in the protest. "Where did all the donations go?"

Although international donors pledged US$4.1 billion (S$5.6 billion) to aid Nepal's recovery, political wrangling over control of the funds and delays in setting up the National Reconstruction Authority mean that most victims have received nothing beyond an initial small payout.

The ruins of Bhaktapur Durbar Square, a Unesco World Heritage Site, following the earthquake on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 27 last year (top), and the same scene last Saturday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


Some four million survivors are still living in temporary shelters one year on, posing a threat to their health and well-being, according to aid agencies, amid mounting frustration with the government.

The disaster struck on April 25 last year, but commemorations were held yesterday - the quake anniversary according to the Nepalese calendar.

It damaged infrastructure across the hardest-hit regions of Nepal, damaging more than 1,200 health centres and severing a lifeline for remote rural communities.

Nearly 8,000 schools were destroyed or left unsafe, leaving almost one million children without classrooms.

Tired of waiting, about 110,000 families have moved back into homes that are still at risk of collapse.

More than 31,000 victims have also rebuilt their own houses, taking out loans or turning to charities for help.


• TOMORROW: Special Report on the first anniversary of the Nepal quake. Straits Times photojournalist Desmond Foo treks to a hard-hit village.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Nepal marks one year since quake amid rising frustration'. Print Edition | Subscribe