CHIURI, Nepal, Nov 5 (Reuters) – The sobbing families of victims of Nepal’s worst earthquake in eight years incinerated their loved ones on Sunday as rescuers searched for people who may still be trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings.
Surrounding about 10 bodies wrapped in white cloth in a tent, relatives prepared garlands of marigolds for Hindu cremation rites held on the banks of the Bheri River.
Earlier, Baljit Mahar, 32, sat cross-legged next to the body of his seven-year-old son, one of 157 people who died in Friday night’s earthquake in the western Himalayan nation, according to the latest count by authorities, along with about 250 injured.
“We could not save him, while the other six family members were able to run away as soon as the earthquake shook us from our sleep,” Mahar told Reuters in the remote village of Chiuri in the mountainous Jajarkot district.
He pulled the body from the crumbling façade of his one-story stone and adobe house.
The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.4, Nepal’s National Seismological Center said, while the U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 5.6.
It was the country’s deadliest since 2015, when about 9,000 people died in two earthquakes that reduced entire towns and centuries-old temples to rubble and destroyed more than a million homes, at a cost of $6 billion for an economy of 40,000. millions of dollars.
Since Friday’s earthquake, thousands of buildings in Jajarkot and the neighboring Rukum West district have collapsed or developed cracks making them uninhabitable.
“All my belongings and clothes are under the rubble,” Mahar said. “I’m left with nothing.”
Nepal police spokesperson Kuber Kadayat said authorities will continue searching for survivors and then quickly address relief and rehabilitation for affected families. The government treats the injured free of charge.
In Kathmandu, the government said it would make immediate arrangements for shelter, food and security for displaced families, and would provide $1,500 to the families of each of the dead as immediate relief.
Some survivors in Chiuri, who belong to the “untouchable” Dalit community according to Nepal’s Hindu customs, said no government representatives had visited them or offered help yet.
Survivors said they heard loud sounds of buildings collapsing shortly after the earthquake hit.
“There was a huge plume of dust and we couldn’t even breathe easily or see anything,” said Shanta Bahadur BK, who was watching over the bodies of six family members while her mother was treated for her injuries at a hospital in the nearest city. . , Nepalgunj.
“I am surprised to lose almost all my family members,” said the 41-year-old, who grows millet and corn. “It is an unbearable pain, but I must face it and endure it. What to do?”
In Khalanga, capital of Jajarkot district, survivors slept on the streets near damaged houses, wrapped in blankets to combat the cold.
“There was a funeral pyre for every body that was cremated according to our culture and tradition,” said survivor BK.
Reporting by Navesh Chitrakar and Yubaraj Sharma in Chiuri; Additional reporting and writing by Gopal Sharma; Edited by William Mallard and Christopher Cushing
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