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Cafod: Panic in Nepal as second earthquake strikes

Earthmovers clear the debris at the site of a building that collapsed in an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal earlier today (PA)

Today’s earthquake in Nepal is causing widespread panic, as people fear that more buildings will collapse, according to Catholic aid agency Cafod, whose staff have been working in the traumatised country since the first massive earthquake there more than two weeks ago.

“There was a large group of us meeting outside when the earth started shaking. Everyone started pointing at the trees and running. The earthquake lasted quite a while and there have been several aftershocks since then,” said Catherine Cowley, Cafod’s protection co-ordinator, who was in Bakrang in Gorkha District when the earthquake struck, working with a community who have recently received shelter kits, hygiene kits and mattresses.

“Many houses in the villages here had already been destroyed by the last earthquake, but we saw one that had only been cracked collapse. Across Nepal, a lot of houses which were already partially damaged could fall down,” she continued.

“The impact could be immense. But the biggest impact is fear. Everyone is desperately trying to contact their families to make sure they’re safe. Everyone is scared that more buildings will collapse. When we started the car to leave the village, a woman screamed because she thought the engine noise was another aftershock. People are traumatised and panicking. Driving through the countryside you can see people gathered outside, scared to go indoors.”

The new earthquake was 7.4 magnitude, with several aftershocks. Early reports from Nepal’s home ministry say that at least 19 people have been killed, and nearly 1,000 injured. These figures are expected to rise. The earlier earthquake, with a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, took more than 8,000 lives.

According to the Independent, the earthquake struck near the Everest base camp at around 8am BST (12.35pm local time) and was measured at a shallow depth of about 19 km (12 miles). A series of intense aftershocks of up to magnitude 6.3 followed over the next hour.

Catholics in England and Wales have already donated more than £1.1 million to Cafod’s Nepal Earthquake appeal, enabling the agency to work with Caritas Nepal and other sister agencies to support to more than 38,000 people since 25 April.

Jen Hardy, from Cafod partner Catholic Relief Services, was accompanying an aid delivery in the small village of Sadobato in Gorkha District when today’s earthquake struck. In a series of tweets she described the situation.

Giovanna Reda, Cafod’s head of humanitarian aid for Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, said: “We are relieved that all Cafod staff in Nepal are safe, but we are deeply concerned about the impact of this second major earthquake. With yet more houses destroyed as the monsoon rains begin, people will urgently need shelter kits, as well as food and hygiene kits to prevent the spread of disease.”