By Chad Loftis
All SIM personnel and local associates are safe and accounted for in Nepal after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and several strong aftershocks have left thousands dead and many more injured. SIM doctors, Dave and Jenny Kim, were attending church in Besisahar, Lamjung - near the epicentre of the quake - when the shaking began.
"All of us exited the church quickly, and gathered outside in one group in a small field next to the church," Jenny said in an email to family and friends. "As we all felt the continued shaking beneath our feet, there was a lot of praying and holding each other close." The Kims narrowly escaped landslides on their way home but were surprised and relieved to find their house and the village mostly unaffected.
Much of the death and damage has been in the capital, Kathmandu, where SIM's Nepal director, Gabriel Jens, and his wife, Biz, have been working alongside SIM partners, TEAM. Gabriel has reported that their team, along with most of the city, has spent the last night and day outdoors (in spite of chilly weather) fearing further building collapses as aftershocks and tremors continue jolting the city.
"During the night we had four good aftershocks with tremors in between," said Gabriel. "You can hear the sound of a truck coming your way and then the shocks hit. The last one, at 5:45 am, was the worst of them all."
His group plans to stay where they are for the moment, but food and clean water is already becoming a concern. SIM partner organisation, KISC, has opened up the covered basketball court at their school and is currently hosting more than 200 people.
"It is very hard to get information and even harder to get reliable information," Gabriel said. "Yesterday we heard that animals in the zoo had escaped. The word that two tigers were walking loose was not encouraging - but can you believe that sort of info?"
Hospitals all over the country - including the hospital in Besisahar where the Kims serve and the hospital run by United Mission to Nepal (UMN) in Tansen where SIM's Dr. Ansie van Rensburg works - are clearing beds and preparing for waves of casualties. An SIM relief project to bolster hospital resources at Besisahar is being drawn up and people are being directed to the UMN website to contribute to work in Tansen.
For now, people everywhere in Nepal are walking or sitting around outdoors, waiting until it's safe to return to their homes. Many in Kathmandu will spend another night in the open. As aftershocks and tremors lessen, the rescue, healing and rebuilding work will begin in earnest.
To join SIM and our partners in bringing relief to Nepali communities destroyed by this earthquake please donate here.