1-7 May 2015 #756

“Langtang is gone”

Nearly all the 200 inhabitants of this tiny village at the base of Mt Langtang are presumed to have perished.
Sahina Shrestha

The avalanche of ice and rocks fell on the village of Langtang just after the ground started shaking that Saturday morning. Even before the family of Dawa Tamang could run for safety the debris had engulfed them.

Tamang, 35, has a dazed look on his face at the courtyard of Kathmandu Medical College (KMC) where his family was evacuated by helicopter on Monday. Tamang himself was in Kathmandu with his elder son. Doctors examine his two-and-half year old son Thindup who broke both his legs while the family tried to escape from their house. His five-year-old daughter Pasang Lhamu escaped with minor injuries. His wife Karsom, 32, sits nearby with an injured arm.

The Tamang family was one of the lucky ones. Nearly all the 200 inhabitants of this tiny village at the base of Mt Langtang are presumed to have perished. The Tamangs only got out because a trekker chartered a helicopter and evacuated them to Kathmandu.

“The entire village is gone, our house is gone, where can I go once this is over?” asks Tamang whose son will have to be operated in a few days. He says he was lucky to have a benefactor who brought him out, there was no presence of the government in Langtang

Next to Tamang in a makeshift bed is Chunchok Tamang, 29, paralysed from the waist down after a rock hit her. Her one-year-old daughter plays nearby. Her husband and mother-in-law were killed. “I survived because I wasn’t inside the house,” she adds, “but my entire family is gone, where will I go with this little one?”

Waiting on her is Kunga Tamang of the same village. “I have been trying to get in touch with my family. But the phone lines are down and there is no way to get there. The roads are blocked and they say even the helicopters haven’t been able to land there now. I don’t know whether they are dead or alive,” says the 20-year-old.

On the ground floor of Civil Hospital in New Baneswor, Ram Lal Danuwar of Sindhupalchok waits on his wife Kali Danuwar, 45. “There was a big bang when the earthquake struck, I was in the field so I escaped injuries but we had to dig my wife out of rubble she had a broken leg and injuries all over her body.” Danuwar took his wife to Dhulikhel Hospital in a milk van since there were no ambulances, but she was sent to Kathmandu.

“There are no houses left in the village they have all been reduced to dust,” he says.

Also from Sindupalchok is another Danuwar family which lost several family members. Five-year-old Regina lies on a bed with broken limbs. “She couldn’t make it out of the house soon enough, but at least she survived, many of our relatives didn’t make it. My wife lost her sister-in-law and nephew,” says Raj Kumar Danuwar. Altogether 11 people died in his house.

Dipendra Purush Dhakal of KMC says he is overwhelmed with casualties from inside and outside the Valley, and the hospital is providing free care and food to the injured most of whom have bone and head fractures.

Photos: Bikram Rai

Read also:

Giving to the living

Shaking things up, Editorial

Monumental loss, Stéphane Huët

Mapping the aftermath, Ayesha Shakya

Microcosm of a calamity, Cynthia Choo and Sonia Awale

Teacher's tragedy, Cynthia Choo

Coming out stronger from crisis, Anjana Rajbhandary

Believe it, or not, Tsering Dolker Gurung

A slow start, David Seddon

The earthquake from above, Kunda Dixit

Surviving trauma, Anjana Rajbhandary

In photos: Nepal Earthquake, Bikram Rai

Thanking the Living Goddess for life, Min Ratna Bajracharya

Preparing to be prepared, Kunda Dixit

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