Irish aid workers at quake center

May 12, 2015
Originally published in: Irish America
Written by Ray O’Hanlon
Irish aid workers rushed to Nepal after last month’s devastating earthquake. They are in Nepal amid the chaos following today’s devastating temblor. “I could see dust rising from the houses as they were collapsing,” said Limerick’s Kieran McConville, who works out of Concern Worldwide’s office in New York as part of the agency’s Concern Emergency Response Team.
“This one was big,” said Concern Emergency Team Leader, Ros O’Sullivan, who is from Donegal. Concern Worldwide’s Emergency Response Team, already in Nepal and responding to the earthquake of 25th April, are all accounted for after they were left shaken by a new earthquake registering 7.3 on the Richter scale that struck Nepal at approximately 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday, May 12.

Kieran McConville, who is in a remote area of the countryside, said: “We were standing on the side of a hill in Bhirkot when the earthquake happened.

“In the valley below I could see dust rising from the houses as they were collapsing. The earthquake two weeks ago damaged those houses and this one destroyed them. The villagers are now sitting in an open space in a field very afraid and night fall is approaching. There have been five big new earthquakes and several aftershocks in the last few hours. Right now, we’re surrounded by landslides limiting our ability to move around.”

Irish Aid Agency GOAL is also working in Nepal since the April 25th quake.

The agency’s emergency response team is currently working to establish the damage, injuries and potential casualties caused by today’s second earthquake.

GOAL’s Country Director in Nepal, Dr. Raj Singh, described the scene on the ground in Kathmandu as “chaotic.”

“People are not permitted to enter buildings at the moment and we have had three aftershocks since the quake, one of which was very pronounced. Thankfully, all my colleagues in GOAL escaped injury and are safe, and at this point we are working as best we can to establish the level of damage, injuries and potential loss of life here in the capital and elsewhere.

“We were working inside when the earthquake struck. Tables and chairs started to shake violently, doors were opening and closing and people started to panic. We got out as soon as we could and we saw buildings swaying as the shaking continued. The earthquake lasted approximately thirty seconds. It was chaotic; people here are extremely scared

“From where I am standing, I can see cracks in several buildings and there is a real fear of buildings collapsing.

Dr. Singh said that apart from now assisting people who have been affected by today’s quake, the challenge for aid groups to support those who were affected by the first earthquake has now become even more daunting and challenging.

“We’ve been delivering aid to extremely vulnerable families in four of the most-affected districts around Kathmandu,” he said.

“The latest quake will undoubtedly complicate and frustrate this work.”

GOAL Regional Director, Darren Hanniffy, has already set out to return to Kathmandu – he was there for several days just after the first quake – and should be in the city by late Tuesday afternoon, according to a GOAL release.