Nepalese in NYC: Reacting to the Devastation

In Jackson Heights, a candlelight vigil was held on April 25 for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. (Photos by Karen Shakerdge for Voices of NY)

[Editor’s note: On April 25, Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale with an epicenter about 50 miles northwest of the capital city of Kathmandu. There were numerous aftershocks still closer to the capital. Thousands are believed dead and many more injured and homeless.

In New York, where more than 3,000 Nepalese live, Kishor Panthi, editor in chief of Khasokhas Weekly, wrote about how some local Nepalese were affected. Read his account, translated by Robin Jha, below.

Also in New York, candlelight vigils have been held.  On the evening of April 25, Karen Shakerdge went to the vigil at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights. Listen to her audio report for Voices of NY below, and view her photographs in the slideshow above.]

The massive earthquake in Nepal has affected family members of many Nepalese residing in the U.S. Some have lost their loved ones, while some houses have turned into rubble. Some have still not been able to contact their loved ones back home. The ones able to reach their families and loved ones to get updates on the situation are relying on Viber, WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Most of the family members of New York resident Bishnuman Pradhan lost their lives and some are badly injured. The family was holding a religious function in their house at the time the earthquake struck. Before boarding his flight on Sunday at 10 pm, Pradhan spoke with Khasokhas. “We were struck by unbearable lightning…I am unable to process anything now. I never even dreamt of such a disaster.”

Pradhan lost 14 family members and loved ones including his mother, brother, sister, grandmother, family friends, and eight others are seriously injured. Pradhan said “my father, sister and sister-in-law were able to escape and survive, and they are currently living in a tent outside the house.”

Similarly, president of the Overseas Nepalese Forum, New Yorker Radha Krishna Deuja’s house in Panauti, Kavrepalanchok district, has suffered some damage. Baltimore resident Janaki Karki’s house in Lubhu, Lalitpur, has collapsed. New York resident Achyut Sigdel’s house in Nuwakot has also suffered damage, while New York resident Aditya Maharjan’s house in Nepal had turned to rubble. President of Overseas Nepalese Forum USA Sanjay Thapa’s house in Gokarna, Kathmandu district, has suffered some damage.

Thapa said that his loved ones are now living in a tent. In an interview with Khasokhas, Thapa said, “After receiving news of the earthquake I became restless. I couldn’t reach anyone by phone. Later I received a call from Nepal via Viber. Finally, after talking with my mother and brother I was relieved.”

Vice president of the Non-Resident Nepali Association Shree Parajuli’s house in Kaski district, has collapsed completely, although his loved ones did not suffer and are safe. Said Parajuli: “My ancestral home is no more. I have received news that 90 percent of houses in Siddha Village have suffered badly.”

The Nepalese living in America are trying to contact their family and loved ones in Nepal but due to the jammed network it’s been difficult. …The affected people are living in tents on grounds nearby, where they are facing scarcity of water, and no electricity. Viber has provided free calls from and to Nepal, but due to network errors and power cuts, people are not able to utilize this service. Also, the Facebook service to see if your loved ones are safe or not has helped a lot.

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