April 28, 2015
In the evening of April 25, the day that the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, I stood on the roof of my house in Kathmandu and looked over the city’s southern suburbs. There was mostly darkness, since the electricity supply had been cut off. Electric light flickered from a few houses that had private sources of power. I counted five small bonfires in the distance, marking the locations of a few of the makeshift campsites where the inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley were preparing to spend the night.
Lucky and unlucky populations
I had seen numerous such sites as I’d walked around the southern outskirts of the Valley where my house lies. In the more affluent parts, where the houses are of relatively recent and sturdy construction, such as the area in which I live, the campers had polyurethane mats and plastic chairs, and were living out of their cars. The damage around didn’t seem that severe: boundary walls had collapsed, water tanks had toppled down from rooftops. Some people I spoke to said the earthquake was the most frightening event of their lives, but many also said that given its intensity, they were surprised that the damage had not been more severe.