HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
Kathmandu: In the aftermath of the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25l, ICIMOD said it has been using its resources and expertise to support relief efforts.
A team of atmospheric scientists from ICIMOD has set up an office at the airport to provide forecasts and live weather information to helicopter pilots and dispatchers, as well as to provide Google Earth 3D images of flight routes to help pilots navigate unfamiliar terrain, identify and recognise destinations, and plan appropriate landing spots.
“Immediately after the disaster, ICIMOD formed a team of GIS and remote sensing experts that is coordinating directly with the Ministry of Home Affairs. They have been working round-the-clock to process and analyse the latest satellite imagery being provided to ICIMOD from space agencies around the globe. The team is mapping pockets of settlements in affected districts and creating profiles of affected VDCs to inform relief operations,” it informed.
Unseasonal rain and weather patterns have proved one of the greatest challenges to helicopter rescue teams providing aid relief and evacuation assistance in remote areas hit by the earthquake. According to ICIMOD, landslides have been another major obstacle for rescue and relief operations.
Many roads are damaged or blocked, cutting off quake-hit villages from aid and rescue workers. Some slopes may have been destabilised by the earthquake, which could lead to other landslides. There is urgent need to assess the impact of landslides for immediate rescue efforts and monitor potential hazards in the future. Moraine dams of glacier lakes may also have weakened during the earthquake, which could result in floods that would affect communities downstream.
“Together with colleagues around the world — in countries like China, Japan, The Netherlands, and the United States — ICIMOD is closely monitoring landslides, glacier lakes, and river courses by analysing the latest satellite images and communicating the latest findings to the Government of Nepal and relief agencies. The threat of further landslides and glacier lake outbursts may increase as snow begins to melt and the monsoon kicks in,” it warned.
ICIMOD staff have collected supplies and dispatched teams of volunteers to provide immediate relief to nearby villages, including Harisiddhi, Godavari, and Sankhu.