Author: Suman Basnet, May 15 2015 - As Regional Coordinator of AMARC Asia Pacific, Suman Basnet sent this email to colleagues on May 13 2015. He has kindly offered to allow its publication as a blog:
Dear colleagues and friends,
Nepal was hit by another major earthquake of 6.8 magnitudes on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Some international agencies have reported the magnitude higher, apparently owing to different ways of measuring. So far more than eight thousand lives have perished and more 17 thousand are injured, mostly in 14 districts in central Nepal. Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk districts in the foothills of the Himalayas were worst hit, with reports of major landslides. At least 65 people lost lives and nearly 2,000 were hurt by Tuesday's quake alone. Sadly, the figures could rise. Heavy tremors were felt in northern India too, where at least 17 have been reported to succumb.
Unfortunately, local radios that were already hit hard by the earlier quakes, received another body blow. All houses and buildings in Dolakha district were completely brought to ground including the local radios. Reports about ground conditions are only emerging. Early assessments have shown that there could be complete information black out in Dolakha and some other districts owing to the crashing of the radios.
AMARC and ACORAB (Nepal’s national CR [community radio] association), in collaboration with several other media/radio organizations are collaborating to pull together whatever support can be made available at a short notice. An informal radio group has been formed consisting of national and international partners to address the emergency situation. The group has been meeting regularly soon after the first quake to gauge the situation and to respond in whatever way possible. There is an overwhelming demand of tents and power generators/fuel. For example, Krishi radio in the Dhading district is out in the open after its building collapsed after yesterday’s jolt. It was already in a precarious condition after the first quakes on 25th April.
Despite extremely adverse conditions, local broadcasters are displaying amazing courage and zeal to resume broadcasting. They are playing a very important role in informing survivors of the ongoing rescue and relief operations. All kinds of ingenious ways are being devised by the radios to engage with the local populations, which include connecting mobile phones to loud speakers, community listening, setting up ad hoc studio in the open - just to mention a few. In some of the districts, there are no private operators. Hence the entire burden of maintaining flow of information has fallen on the shoulders of community radios.
AMARC has appealed for help to rebuild quake affected community radios of Nepal. Please visit the AMARC appeal site here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I will be posting more information as soon as possible.
With warmest regards, Suman