The only word that failed to say when she saw rescuers was “namastè”, i.e. a faint “Hello”. She had been stuck under the rubble of her house for three days, which had collapsed last Saturday following the strong earthquake that hit Bakhtapur, one of the most devastated areas. Aged 32, she suffers from a severe congenital malformation of the central nervous system, the Dandy-Walker syndrome, which has made her a paraplegic since her birth. “We believed that our sister was dead, because even our neighbours – who can walk – are”. Her family had gone about contacting the army, explaining the situation, but the military could not go there to see what remained of the three-storey house until the following day.
Her sister-in-law and niece had spent two nights on the rubble, because they didn’t want to give in to the fact that Ngawang had died. It was only on Sunday, when thanks to some youth in the army and Red Cross volunteers began searching. Then came the miracle, after 72 hours shifting the rubble away with their hands: moving mounds of debris that covered everything, they managed to the woman from the debris still alive. A slap in the face to death.
A story with a happy ending, in the midst of thousands of horror, grief and devastation. Four days following the first devastating 7.9 magnitude tremor in Nepal, emerges, though confusingly, the magnitude of its disaster that hit 8million people — a third of the Himalayan country. The official death toll has exceeded 5,000, but the government estimates that it could rise to over 10,000, as claimed by the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. Gradually, relief operations are getting to the valleys north of Kathmandu, those closest to the epicentre, the picture of the tragedy becomes increasingly dramatic. It’s sad to say, but the biggest problem now is not to count the dead but help the survivors. In the capital, there are shortages of bottled water, food and gasoline. Electricity has been restored only in some areas.
In Kathmandu, the torrential rain has exacerbated the already precarious conditions of thousands of homeless people who are living in the rough in parks and on sidewalks. Many of them can’t return to their precarious homes because endangered, and thousands of children are at risk of hypothermia.
It is feared that in the forthcoming days in Kathmandu, there will be an exodus of refugees from the earthquake zone. Tens of thousands of people have left the villages on public transport or with their own vehicles. The newspapers this morning have published dramatic photos of people who assaulted the few buses left to flee from the ‘uninhabitable ‘ villages by now owing to corpses rotting under the rubble.
International rescuers are on their way. In addition to China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States have sent basic necessities, medicines and helicopters to transport the casualties. India sent in helicopters, Italy contributes with firemen, Alpine guards and Red Cross.
In addition to the tragedy of the earthquake, that of the avalanches that have been engulfed about 150 climbers who were on the Everest base camp, on the field 2 and over 120 tourists who were trekking towards Pangoche. For the moment, there are 18 victims have been, but only in the next few days, when the survivors converge to Lukla (where the airport is), will there finally be a clear picture of what happened on the ‘ roof of the world ‘, where for the second year in a row there will be no climbs to the summit.
Finally the the Italian Ministry said that so far, 375 Italians have been traced ,while ten are still missing. At the moment four victims have been confirmed.
Translation provided by Marina Stronati