Relatives of Nepal earthquake victims wail and burn the bodies of their loved ones

CHEWRI, Nepal (Reuters) – Relatives of victims of the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in eight years burned their loved ones’ bodies on Sunday as rescuers searched for people who may still be trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Relatives of the victims surrounded about 10 bodies covered with white cloth in a tarpaulin tent, and prepared marigold wreaths for the Hindu cremation rituals held on the banks of the Bheri River.

Earlier, Baljit Maher (32 years old) sat cross-legged next to the body of his seven-year-old son, one of 157 people killed in the earthquake that occurred late Friday in the west of the Himalayan country, according to the latest authorities’ count. Along with about 250 wounded.

“We were unable to save him while all six other family members were able to get out as soon as the earthquake woke us from our sleep,” Maher told Reuters in the remote village of Chiori in the mountainous Jajarkot district.

The body was recovered from the collapsed facade of their one-story house, built of mud and stone.

The National Seismological Center in Nepal said that the magnitude of the earthquake reached 6.4, while the US Geological Survey estimated its magnitude at 5.6.

It was the country’s deadliest since 2015, when about 9,000 people were killed in two quakes that reduced entire towns and centuries-old temples to rubble and destroyed more than a million homes, at a cost of $6 billion to the $40 billion economy.

Since Friday’s quake, thousands of buildings in Jajarkot and the neighboring Rukum West district have collapsed or developed cracks, making them uninhabitable.

Maher said: “All my belongings and clothes are under the rubble.” “I was left with nothing.”

Nepalese police spokesman, Kuber Kadiat, said that the authorities will continue to search for survivors, and then quickly provide relief and rehabilitation to the affected families. The government treats the injured for free.

In Kathmandu, the government said it would make immediate arrangements to provide shelter, food and safety to displaced families, and would provide $1,500 to the families of each of the dead as immediate relief.

Some survivors in Chiwari, who belong to the Dalit community, “untouchable” according to Hindu customs in Nepal, said no government representative had visited or offered help so far.

Survivors said they heard loud noises from collapsed buildings shortly after the earthquake.

“There was a big plume of dust and we couldn’t even breathe easily or see anything,” said Shanta Bahadur PK, who was observing the bodies of six family members while his mother was being treated for injuries at a hospital in the nearest city. , Nepalgunj.

“I was shocked to lose almost all of my family members,” said the 41-year-old, who works in millet and maize farming. “It’s unbearable pain, but I have to face it and bear it. What should I do?”

In Khalanga, the capital of Jajarkot district, survivors slept in the streets near damaged homes, wrapped in blankets to beat the cold.

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Survivor B.K. said: “There was one funeral pyre for each body that was burned according to our culture and traditions.”

(Reporting by Navish Chitrakar and Yuparaj Sharma in Chiori; Preparing by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) Additional reporting and writing by Gopal Sharma; Edited by William Mallard and Christopher Cushing

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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