Nepal earthquake: Thousands spend night outdoors in cold

A boy sleeps on the floor next to a house collapsed during an earthquake in Jajarkot
A boy sleeps on the floor next to a house collapsed during an earthquake in Jajarkot

In a remote hilly region of western Nepal, thousands of people were forced to spend a very cold night outdoors after their houses were damaged by a strong earthquake on Friday.

In all, 157 people died and more than 300 were injured in the quake.

Officials say search and rescue missions are coming to a close.

The focus now is on providing shelter to the homeless and arranging essential supplies. But rescue teams told the BBC they did not have enough tents.

Thousands of people who lost their homes slept under the open sky or in makeshift tents in freezing temperatures overnight.

One sufferer, who lost her sister in the earthquake, shared her grief: "We have been forced to live in this situation. We have lost everything. There is no food and no shelter. My sister left us all. We need help."

Relief efforts are focused on the more remote parts of the two districts worst hit by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake - Jajarkot and Rukum West.

Stories of horrifying experiences, miraculous escapes, close calls and the devastating loss of family members and friends are coming in.

Baljit Mahar, who lost his seven-year-old son, is one of them.

"We could not save him, while all the other six members of the family were able to rush out as soon as the earthquake jolted us from our sleep," Mahar told Reuters in the remote village of Chiuri in the hilly Jajarkot district.

He pulled his son's body from the crumbled façade of their single-storey mud and stone house.

"All my belongings and clothes are under the debris, I have been left without anything," Mahar added.

Another survivor from Rukum, Baljeet BK, pleaded for government assistance to shelter the now-homeless people:

"There is no food to eat and no shelter to stay in. People are staying outside in the open. We have to stay in this cold. Entire houses have gone away."

Map of 3 November 2023 earthquake in Nepal
Map of 3 November 2023 earthquake in Nepal

In the most affected areas of ​​Jajarkot, preparations are being made for the mass cremation of people who died during the earthquake.

People are not only suffering from the loss of loved ones, but also fearing the possibility of more aftershocks.

In Jajarkot and West Rukum, officials have told people to stay away from their homes.

More than 250 aftershocks have hit the region since Friday. According to the National Earthquake Measurement and Research Center, six of the aftershocks were of magnitudes above 4.

The Nepali government has agreed to accept help from friendly countries and promised to reconstruct the affected areas within a year.

The authorities have also said that they will provide free treatment at the hospitals for the injured.

They urged people to be aware of fraudulent calls offering relief.