The Himalayan region, including Western Nepal, is known for its seismic activity due to the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. There’s ongoing research on earthquake risk in the area, considering factors like population density, building infrastructure, and geological conditions.
As the clock struck midnight on Friday, the remote mountainous terrain of Nepal felt the unsettling tremors of a formidable 6.4 magnitude earthquake. Exploring the growing earthquake risk in western Nepal. However, this event was not an isolated incident but rather the latest addition to a series of more than 70 seismic activities that had already rattled the country throughout the year 2023, as evidenced by official data.
Why Earthquake Occur
Earthquakes occur due to the movement of tectonic plates beneath the Earth’s surface. The Earth’s outer shell, called the lithosphere, is divided into several large and small pieces called tectonic plates. These plates are constantly in motion, albeit very slowly.
An earthquake happens when the ground suddenly slips along a crack called a fault. The earth’s outer layer, made of giant puzzle pieces called tectonic plates, is always moving, but sometimes they get stuck at the edges. When the stress becomes too much, they slip, causing an earthquake. This releases energy that travels in waves, shaking the ground.
Nepal is particularly susceptible to earthquakes due to its location on the boundary of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. The collision of these two massive plates has resulted in the uplifting of the Himalayas and the continual geological strain that eventually releases as earthquakes. The country’s complex tectonic setting, with numerous fault lines crisscrossing its terrain, makes it prone to frequent seismic activity. Consequently, the region experiences a higher frequency of earthquakes compared to many other parts of the world.
When these plates interact, they can either collide, move apart, or slide past each other. The boundaries where they interact are called fault lines. The stress that builds up along these fault lines over time is eventually released in the form of seismic energy, causing the ground to shake—what we feel as an earthquake.
So, it’s essentially the Earth’s way of adjusting to the constant movement of its tectonic plates. Nature’s way of keeping things interesting, I guess!
Understanding Foreshocks and Aftershocks
Foreshocks and aftershocks are both types of earthquakes, but they occur at different times in relation to a larger mainshock.
Foreshocks are smaller earthquakes that precede the main earthquake event. They serve as a kind of warning sign, indicating that a larger earthquake may be on the way. While not always present before every earthquake, foreshocks can provide valuable information to seismologists and help in predicting the likelihood of a major seismic event.
Aftershocks, on the other hand, are smaller earthquakes that follow the mainshock. They occur as the earth’s crust adjusts to the changes caused by the initial earthquake. Aftershocks can continue for days, weeks, or even months after the main event, gradually decreasing in frequency and intensity. While aftershocks are usually less powerful than the mainshock, they can still be strong enough to cause additional damage and complicate recovery efforts.
Devastating Earthquake Claims 157 Lives in Northwestern Nepal
In a far-off corner of northwestern Nepal, a strong earthquake struck, taking at least 157 lives and leaving many buildings in ruins. The quake, measuring 5.6 on the scale, hit near Jumla in Karnali province, sending tremors as far as India’s capital, New Delhi.
Lets’ Exploring the growing earthquake risk in western Nepal 3 November 2023, Jajarkot. The aftermath revealed a heartbreaking toll—157 confirmed dead, 170 injured, making it the deadliest quake since 2015. Jajarkot district, close to the epicenter, lost 105 lives, with 55 injured. Rukum West district reported 52 casualties and 85 injuries. The numbers etch a somber reminder of nature’s unpredictable might on the canvas of life.
Stay Safe: Drop, Cover, Hold On During an Earthquake
DROP to your hands and knees to prevent falling and maintain mobility during the quake. COVER your head and neck under a sturdy table or desk. If no shelter is available, seek refuge near an interior wall or low-lying furniture, shielding yourself with your arms. HOLD ON to your cover or to your head and neck until the shaking subsides, ready to move if necessary.
Remember, staying inside is usually safer than running outside or to other rooms during an earthquake. Take these measures to minimize harm:
Before the shaking intensifies, quickly distance yourself from hazardous objects like glass, hanging items, and heavy furniture. If possible, find an object to shield your head and face from potential debris and broken glass. In the kitchen, promptly turn off the stove and seek cover at the first tremor. If in bed, hold on and stay put, protecting your head with a pillow to avoid injuries from broken glass on the floor. Avoid standing in doorways; instead, opt for shelter under a table. Doorways provide no extra protection from falling objects, which pose the most significant threat during an earthquake. Be mindful that the majority of earthquake-related injuries and fatalities result from falling or airborne objects. Stay vigilant and stay safe.
If you find yourself in a high-rise building during an earthquake, remember to Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Move away from windows and outer walls, and stay inside the building. Avoid using elevators as the power may go out and sprinkler systems may activate. If you’re trapped, try to remain calm and attract attention by tapping on hard or metal parts of the structure, increasing your chances of being rescued.
Practice drop, cover, and hold on, avoiding any rush towards the doorways as others may have the same idea. Steer clear of display shelves carrying objects that could potentially fall during the quake. Seek cover if possible, and secure an item to shield your head and face from any falling debris or glass, ensuring added protection during the tremor.
When outside during an earthquake
Stay away from buildings, wires, and gas lines.
Find an open area away from trees and poles. Crouch and wait.
Avoid outer walls as they can collapse.
If in a vehicle, stop away from poles and underpasses. Stay inside and use the radio for updates.
Watch out for hazards when driving again, like broken roads and fallen poles.
Dal Bahadur Phadera is the founder of PhaderaWorldWide, dedicated to driving global change and social justice. With a passion for eradicating poverty and promoting equity, Phadera leads efforts to empower communities, provide education, healthcare, and sustainable livelihood opportunities. Phadera has been a renowned and influential blog writer since 2010. Over the years, they have published numerous websites and contributed as a guest writer to various blogging platforms. Their expertise spans across diverse categories, showcasing their remarkable writing capabilities. Through collaboration and advocacy, Phadera envisions a world where everyone can thrive and fulfill their potential.