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Nepal Red Cross in Kathmandu is the base of our operations and is a large facility, but we overflow into the hotel next door as it is a huge response. As of yesterday there are 261 Red Cross aid workers from around the world and more than 7, 000 local Nepal Red Cross volunteers.
The Wi-Fi and communications are great thanks to our Kiwi IT team. We’ve had a couple of aftershocks which make you hold your breath and then I find I feel a bit woozy afterwards.
I am part of the Regional Disaster Response Medical Team. Yesterday I was a member of an assessment team which tried to get to Tatopani in the district of Sindhupal, (near the border with China) but the road was still blocked badly by rock fall. We got to a village called Khokundole by walking a few kilometres.
We passed a crushed vehicle in which three people had been killed. The locals had buried them temporarily there until their families in Kathmandu could make funeral arrangements. Sadly, we also spotted a waterlogged body in the river caught in rocks on the far side, so we took GPS coordinates for the police to recover him.
We traversed enormous fallen boulders, and saw across the river from us the massive valley sides continually slid miles down into the river, causing masses of dust clouds.
We walked past power poles that were leaning on all angles and the lines were down on the road. There were damaged buses, 4WDs, cars and motorbikes showing that people were going about their usual business when the quake struck.
Lots of people and families were walking out with meagre belongings on their backs and all were eager to share their experiences and local knowledge with us.
We passed small goat herds and continually checked the hills above us for impending rock fall as the goats grazed and disturbed the fragile rocky hills.
We walked past a huge pipeline from a hydroelectric plant, the pipe had burst during the quake and washed a huge amount of the hillside away including part of a house and the road. Once we got to the village, we estimated it was greater than 90 per cent damaged. The locals were happy to see someone from an aid organisation (we were the first to get in) and were keen to impart their experience and inform us of their immediate needs.
Some people looked dazed and bewildered, others were positive and animated perhaps still filled with adrenaline. Dusty kids ran up to us and smiled at us, as kids do, then listened with interest to our discussions, standing front and centre.
People were going into their dangerously unstable housing to collect bedding and precious items then bundling them up in the open. There appeared to be adequate food (the villagers offered us apples when we arrived), which had come from over the Chinese border. The road was clear from Khokundole to our original intended destination Tatopani.
Resulting from our assessment, today a team from the Canadian Red Cross team will set up a health post there and the road is now accessible, so these devastated people will get much needed and appropriate support.
Donna is working in Nepal as part of the New Zealand Red Cross delegate programme which has been running since 1960. Our aid worker programme is partly supported by funding from New Zealand Aid Programme through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.