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Lessons from Nepal Gorkha's Earthquake 2015

  • Acharya, G.
  • Sharma, E.
  • Molden, D.

The Himalayas have always been at the center of global seismological discourse, primarily because the region sits on a dangerous fault line. At the junction of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, an immense amount of energy builds up as the Indian plate continuously moves under the Eurasian plate. This buildup of energy has given rise to the highest mountains in the world; however, it also makes the Himalayan region seismically hazardous. As a result of this tectonic process, which began between 40 and 50 million years ago, the Himalayas have seen many great earthquakes, and seismic risks persist in many areas along the Himalayan arc, including in Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. On 25 April 2015, Nepal was struck by a huge Mw 7.8 earthquake with its epicenter located in the Gorkha region, about 80 km northwest of Kathmandu. It affected 31 of the country's 75 districts and more than 8 million people. The earthquake caused widespread damage and destruction of homes and human settlements in all the affected districts. Discussing a number of lessons learnt, this paper argues for a holistic approach to disaster preparedness and recovery, mainly focusing on the significance of livelihoods recovery. It also highlights the importance of cooperation and coordination among countries in the Himalayan region to improve understanding of seismic risks in the region and prepare for earthquakes and their subsequent impacts.

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