Though it was always vulnerable to earthquakes,
Nepal didn't face any massive one in 80 years, and the landlocked impoverished
nation was not prepared for this one, a massive 7.8 earthquake.
The earthquake, a shallow one with depth of
just 15 Kms, has affected around 8 million people of Nepal, the UN say in its
revised estimates. According to some estimates, the shallow and strong quake
has hit almost 40% of Nepal and is expected to cost the nation billions of US$
The whole of Himalayan range is considered
unstable and Nepal lies there. Mount Everest is getting up every year, a centimetre
each year. According to the geologists, Indian plate is sliding under Nepal.
The whole Kathmandu was almost flattened in
1934 earthquake. Nepal could have learnt lessons from it and designed buildings
in a way to withstand earthquakes. But among the poorest nations of earth,
Nepal could not do it.
Poor it was. It remained poor. And with a
continued streak of Maoist insurgency that was taken into mainstream in last
decade only. The result was - an unplanned growth. Nepal is basically about
Kathmandu and Mount Everest - its best known locations. Then, there is tourism
circuit of districts like Pokhara and Janakpur. All these are in a
Over the years, most of Kathmandu and the valley
surrounding it have grown in an unorganized way. Most of the buildings do now
follow quake-resistant building rules. Most heritage buildings needed
retrofitting. Nepal had seven UN heritage sites before this earthquake. Four
are completely destroyed in Saturday's earthquake. Many localities, buildings,
temples and structures are completely decimated.
Himalaya was formed when the Indian plate
collided with the Eurasian plate. And Himalaya is still rising up. The Indian
plate is sliding under the Eurasian plate and whenever a collision happens, it
releases enormous amount of energy. It happened in 1934. It happened on April
25. Killing over 10,000 then. Killing scores now and the complete assessment
will take time.
Indian plate is sliding northwards at 5 centimetres
per year. It is considered a fast enough pace in geological parlance.
The movement of tectonic plates below India
and Nepal creates a fault-line that runs all along the Himalayan range - 1400
mile long. And Nepal is on this fault-line.
Enormous energy is released when the earth
crust ruptures due to the stress between the plates and it is a continued
But we cannot predict its frequency. Some
experts say now Nepal should be ready for a big earthquake every five-six
decades. But even they are not sure.
After the earthquake, India has slid around
6-7 feet under Nepal, different scientific estimates say. That means over a
Understanding it is tectonic in nature -
you want to understand it or you don't want to. It all depends on people. For
those who want to understand the science behind the Saturday's earthquake,
these are few links:
Scientific American - How The Deadly Nepal
Discovery News - The Science Behind The