Members of Cayman’s small Nepalese community gathered Sunday to say a prayer for their devastated homeland in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that killed at least 4,000 people.
As images emerged of demolished buildings, broken roads and victims buried amid the rubble, around 150 Nepalese people living in Cayman faced a frantic weekend, trying to get in touch with family and friends back home.
Durga Limbu, a security guard at the Government Administration Building, helped gather about 50 people at a basketball court in his George Town neighborhood. Many of them had lost homes and property, but no loss of life was reported among their immediate families.
Hair stylist Puspa Rumba said her home was destroyed, but her immediate family, in Kathmandu, was safe. She said her mother and brother were living in a tent because the government was preventing people from returning to their homes amid fears that after-shocks from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake would cause further destruction. She is still waiting for news from her home village of Khukhure, where initial reports suggested the majority of buildings, including her own home, had been destroyed.
“In my village, there are no houses left, lots of people are injured and no aid is getting through. The animals, the cows and the buffalo are dead, more than 900 buildings have collapsed,” said Ms. Rumba, who works at Eclipze Hair Design and Day Spa.
She said her uncle and cousins had survived the initial quake but there had been no communication with the village since Saturday. She fears that aid is not getting through to remote rural areas.
“I am not worried for my house, a house can be rebuilt,” she said. “I’m worried for my family and friends if they don’t get water or aid.
“All the focus is on Kathmandu and the climbers at Mount Everest, but so many people are dying in rural areas because they have no water. The roads are destroyed and there are not enough helicopters, so the aid can’t get through.”
Vast tent cities have sprung up in the Kathmandu valley area, with authorities advising people not to return to their homes.
Simon Limbu, one of around 20 Nepalese nationals working for the Security Centre in Cayman, was in Nepal when the earthquake struck. He sent colleagues a picture of himself and his child in a tent where they are staying to show that he was safe.
Suresh Budhathoki, who works at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, said his family members were living in a construction truck. “They are safe, but they are not able to go home because of a series of aftershocks,” he said.
He said they and neighbors in the town of Hetauda, 60 miles east of Kathmandu, were living off the basic provisions they had at home before the earthquake.
Neeta Yogi, a security officer, said 10 members of her family, including her brother and sisters, were sheltering in tents by the side of the road in Kathmandu. They are trying to get back to their home village of Danz, 155 miles away, but the roads are blocked. Durga Limbu, who brought some of Cayman’s Nepalese community together to offer support on Sunday evening, said, “My aim was to get people there and ask if anyone was hurting. Thankfully, there was nobody who lost family members. People had buildings and property damaged, but we did not hear of any loss of life.
“Now we are trying to raise donations for the disaster relief. Cayman is small and there are not so many Nepalese people here, but we want to do what we can to help.”
Guy Manning, the Cayman-based lawyer who climbed Mount Everest in 2013 to raise money for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, said the disaster would be devastating for the impoverished Himalayan nation.
“It is a terrible tragedy and I expect the news is going to get worse. A lot of Nepal is so remote that there is still no news from the rural areas. They have got problems with the water supply and the risk of disease,” he said.
The impact of the disaster was felt on Everest too, where an avalanche swept through base camp, killing 17 people.
“On a smaller scale, but no less sad, the devastation at Everest base camp has been awful,” said Mr. Manning.
A climber with Jagged Globe, the trekking company that led Mr. Manning’s expedition, was killed and others were injured. One of the sherpas who helped the Campbells lawyer reach the summit was killed in a separate avalanche last year.
“It inevitably crosses your mind, how lucky we were. Over the last two years there have been terrible fatalities with that team,” he said.
For more coverage on the aftermath of the earthquake and a list of agencies that are accepting donations, see page 10.