People take shelter at an open space after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 26, 2015. The death toll from a powerful earthquake which struck Nepal on Saturday has climbed to 1, 896 including 723 in the Nepal's capital Kathmandu, a senior government official told Xinhua on Sunday morning. (Xinhua/Pratap Thapa)
People take shelter at an open space after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 26, 2015. The death toll from a powerful earthquake which struck Nepal on Saturday has climbed to 1, 896 including 723 in the Nepal's capital Kathmandu, a senior government official told Xinhua on Sunday morning. (Xinhua/Pratap Thapa)

by Shristi Kafle

After the massive earthquake five days ago that has killed thousands and devastated wide swathes of Nepal, some streets of this capital teemed with people as they prepared to return to their villages carrying their belongings.

People take shelter at an open space after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 26, 2015. The death toll from a powerful earthquake which struck Nepal on Saturday has climbed to 1, 896 including 723 in the Nepal's capital Kathmandu, a senior government official told Xinhua on Sunday morning. (Xinhua/Pratap Thapa)
People take shelter at an open space after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 26, 2015. The death toll from a powerful earthquake which struck Nepal on Saturday has climbed to 1, 896 including 723 in the Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, a senior government official told Xinhua on Sunday morning. (Xinhua/Pratap Thapa)

With some relief but worries still on their faces, thousands gathered in the major centers of the city early in the morning to prepare for their exit from the capital that had witnessed several aftershocks after Saturday’s 7.9-magnitude quake.
The Home Ministry said on Thursday the official death toll has risen to 5,283 with 10,348 injured. But experts said the death toll could still rise since rescue workers, including those coming from abroad, still could not reach worse-hit areas.
With a fear of possible epidemics, health hazards, scarcity of food and other essential items, not to mention psychological traumas, people who have temporarily encamped on open spaces and streets in Kathmandu have started leaving for their hometowns and villages.
Students, teachers, businessmen, people from all walks of life, including civil servants, have rushed to go back to their villages which they deemed as safer in case of another earthquake.
Prakash Adhikari, 60, and his wife Maya Adhikary were among hundreds of Afghans who queued at the central New Baneshwor station to head to their hometown Jhapa in the eastern region of the Himalayan nation.
“We have lived in the capital and run a small business for the last 15 years but had never felt so helpless during the disaster. We stayed in open ground because of the aftershocks and we have to suffer hunger, thirst and rain for four nights. We have decided to go back to our village,” Adhikari told Xinhua.
Like the Adhikari couple, hundreds of other terrified city residents have to queue from two to three km to the New Baneshwor station in order to get seats in vehicles which have been arranged by the government for free for those who would like to return to their villages.
The government had decided to provide free transportation services through 500 vehicles to the people willing to return to hometowns, either to eastern or western districts following huge mess in bus stations and the chaotic transportation service.
Up early Wednesday, more than 50 vehicles have already left the administrative and central hub in Kathmandu within two hours. Kathmandu has a population of about 4 million people.
Vehicles exiting Kathmandu included school and college buses provided by Private and Boarding School’s Organization Nepal ( PABSON) and Higher Secondary School Association Nepal (HISSAN). Few vehicles have been provided by public transportation organization Sajha Yatayat as well.
Manju Khadka, an 18-year-old college student at Padma Kanya College, and her younger brother, were among those who lined up for hours for a bus trip back to their village.
“My village is in Chitwan District, some five hours drive from here. My parents were very worried during the last few days when we live in the streets. We could not return to our room which is in the congested area of Ason so we were forced to live in the open without tents and food. I am feeling blessed that finally I will soon be safe in arms of my parents,” Khadka said while waiting for the bus that would take her and her younger brother to their village.
Kathmandu has never been as chaotic as thousands of people leave the capital. The atmosphere in the capital can be compared with hustle and bustle during the 15-day-long Dashain Festival that falls in September or October.
Crowds have been unmanageable in some areas as there were more passengers than vehicles that included busses, trucks and vans.
Although the Home Ministry had directed transport operators not to charge exorbitant fares during the crisis period, some unscrupulous operators have been reported to make a killing by jacking up their fares.
Kathmandu is struggling hard to return to normalcy as there are fears of more aftershocks. According to National Seismological Center, the number of aftershocks measuring over magnitude 4 has reached 103. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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