[Anglican Communion News Service] Based on reports from Anglican Alliance.
The effects of the 7.9 Richter scale earthquake that hit Nepal 80 km northwest of Kathmandu Saturday just before noon local time and the aftershock an hour later have been “devastating,” said the Revd Lewis Lew, Dean of Nepal Deanery of the Diocese of Singapore of the Church of the Province of South East Asia.
At least 3,617 people are confirmed to have died, police say, and more than 6,500 people have been injured, according to the National Emergency Operation Centre. Dozens of people are also reported to have been killed in neighbouring China and India.
The death toll from the most powerful quake to hit the region in 81 years is likely to rise as information comes in from remote outlying areas of the mountainous country. Massive damage to property and infrastructure has been reported in Kathmandu and outlying villages, access to which has been cut off by landslides. Tremors were felt as far afield as Delhi and Dhaka.
“Many buildings in Kathmandu, especially those in old Kathmandu city, have collapsed,” said Dean Lew. “We are [having great difficulty] contacting our churches outside of Kathmandu, as communication is [nearly] totally cut off outside of Kathmandu. We are particularly concerned for our churches near the epicentre, those in Gorkha, Bhaktapur & Dhading districts. I am working with our brothers to see what kind of help is needed and how we can support them.”
The quake also hit Mt Everest, and resulted in many avalanches, he said. Authorities were still trying to account for the mountaineers.
The government of Nepal has appealed to the international community for emergency assistance as the scale of the disaster is beyond the response capacities of national authorities.
‘Nothing is standing’
Many of the Deanery’s churches are located in villages in the Dhading district which was badly hit by the quake. Buildings, houses, schools and churches have all collapsed. “Nothing is standing,” said one of the local priests.
“The death toll is expected to be high. The survivors are badly shaken. They are waiting for aid. There is a shortage of clean water and food and electricity has been cut off. This disaster has claimed so far more than 2000 lives and more than 8000 are injured. Tremors are still being felt every half an hour, even in Kathmandu,” said Dean Lew.
Many people are reportedly sleeping outside, even those who have not lost their homes, for fear of further tremors causing building collapse.
Gearing up to respond
Currently, work is being done to assess the situation on the ground in Nepal, according to Dean Lew. “I hope to get more ground reports on [the needs] and how we can help practically, and also this will give me a chance to consult our bishops on how we can come alongside our folks in the deanery,” he said.
Churches and agencies around the Anglican Communion have launched appeals and preparing for the massive relief response that will be needed. The Anglican Alliance would be standing ready to give support, said Co-Executive Director Rachel Carnegie.
The Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah, Bishop of Singapore, reported that Bishop Kuan Kim Seng, Director of Missions of the Diocese of Singapore, had put the ACROSS Crisis Relief team in ‘ready to move’ mode. “We stand ready to come alongside with practical help. We long to be with you and will do so soon.”
Dean Lew asked for prayer for all those affected by the earthquake and for disaster and relief teams mobilising to respond.
The Interim General Secretary of the Anglican Communion Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan has assured the Church of the Province of South East Asia of the support of the Anglican Communion.
For more details on appeals and links to more information, please consult the Anglican Alliance website.
Share prayers for Nepal and the region on the Prayer Wall of the Anglican Communion website.