With more than 2,000 people in Nepal already declared dead following yesterday’s devastating earthquake, organizations throughout Qatar are coming together to raise funds and provide crucial assistance to those on the ground.
Following news of the disaster yesterday morning, Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) launched an emergency appeal to collect QR12 million, and pledged QR1 million for emergency relief operations.
— الهلال الأحمر القطري (@QRCS) April 27, 2015
That aid will go toward meeting immediate needs such as healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation, as well as restoring some communication links to help families connect, QRC said in a statement.
The earthquake, which registered 7.8 on the Richter scale, struck just before midday in the capital of Kathmandu (shortly after 9am Qatar time), with the epicenter located between there and the country’s second largest city, Pokhara.
The country’s worst earthquake for more than 80 years flattened large parts of the cities, and aftershocks were felt in Bangladesh, India and Tibet.
Some 17 people were killed on Mt. Everest by avalanches, while the earthquake also destroyed UNESCO world heritage sites and popular tourist attractions, including the 100-foot Dharahara Tower, which was a Kathmandu landmark.
Nepalis in Qatar
Qatar is home to around 400,000 Nepalis, making it the second-largest expat community in the country, which has a total population of 2.34 million.
QRC said its emergency operation room was formed 30 minutes after news broke of the incident, which was declared a national disaster and which prompted Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam to appeal for international humanitarian aid.
In a statement, the charity added that despite scarce early assessment reports of the situation, caused by the destruction of telecommunications and the destruction of roads and other infrastructure, the Nepalese government outlined several priorities.
They included healthcare, water and sanitation services, shelters and food provisions in addition to kitchen and hygiene kits, blankets and food packages.
As rescue efforts to find survivors in the rubble continue, media reports say that hospitals are struggling to cope with the demand.
Many Nepalese living in Qatar and around the world have struggled to contact friends and family back home, Kumar Karki of the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Qatar told Doha News.
Karki, who is from Morang in Eastern Nepal and who has lived in Qatar for 10 years, said he had spent the last day trying to help other Nepalis get in touch with their loved ones.
“My family and friends are all ok, but I have been trying to contact the families of other Nepalese back home. It’s very difficult as the mobile network has been very bad.”
He said his organization was working with the Nepalese Embassy in Qatar and would be meeting this afternoon, along with representatives of other community groups, to plan their response.
“We are all in a very sorrowful moment. It is a big disaster, with people in Qatar desperately trying to contact their relatives and friends to see if they are ok,” he added.
Several online tools have been set up in an attempt to help Nepalese find their friends and family. The Nepal Red Cross Society and International Committee of the Red Cross is operating Family Links.
It allows for a search of missing people and people who have reported they are alive, families and friends to register for those with whom they have lost contact.
Meanwhile, Google’s Person Finder currently has a database of around 2,900 records and has options to search for missing people or to upload information about individuals.
Following the earthquake, Qatar Airways announced online it had canceled its flights QR646 and QR650 from Doha to Kathmandu, which were due to depart yesterday as the airport in the capital was closed.
However, according to the airline’s online tracker, flights to Kathmandu resumed this morning. Update: Due to ongoing aftershocks, the airport appears to be closed again until this afternoon:
Just in: Kathmandu airport shut down till 4pm local time following fresh quake in Nepal, says government.
— Gulf News (@gulf_news) April 26, 2015
To make a donation to Qatar Red Crescent’s appeal, go to the charity’s website here.