ICIMOD Earthquake Brief

15 May 2015

The ICIMOD Task Force on Geo-hazards continued to map and assess hazards created by landslides, rock falls, and avalanches in the aftermath of the two earthquakes of 25 April and 12 May 2015. The Task Force coordinated with the broad international team with the Governments of India (Indian Space Research Organization – ISRO), Pakistan (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission – SUPARCO), China (Chinese Academy of Sciences), and Nepal, as well as other bodies like the National Aerospace and Space Administration (NASA), the University of Arizona, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Esri, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Digital Globe, Disaster Charter, and the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The maps and reports developed by the Task Force are available on ICIMOD’s website: www.icimod.org/nepalearthquake2015. You are welcome to download the maps and other information including stories from our website for your research and other purposes.

  • The Task Force gathered information from various international partners, prepared a synthesis report, and disseminated it to relevant government organizations in Nepal, including the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The report – titled ‘Geo-hazards in the aftermath of the 25 April 2015 (12 Baisakh 2072) Earthquake: Rapid Analysis Prepared for the Government of Nepal’ - outlines status of major landslides, their possible impacts, and recommendations for follow-up. The report identifies landslides and formation of artificial lakes that may have occurred due the earthquake, and outlines the status of glacial lakes within the earthquake affected areas.
  • To date, the Task Force has identified over 3000 landslides, and assembled a database of over 250 landslides and other large mass movements, focusing specifically on those that were generated by the earthquake and its aftershocks or other secondary effects. Further, details of the five most significant river-damming slides was included in the report.
  • The Task Force carried out the preliminary assessment of potential Lower Pisang Landslide Dam Outburst Flood and shared the report with the Ministry of Home Affairs. ICIMOD and the international scientific community will continue to monitor landslide-dammed rivers, secondary landslides, and the development of future landslide hazards as the monsoon draws near.
  • Some members of the Task Force visited Langtang on 12 May to assess geo-hazards in the area as well as to assess ICIMOD’s research stations located there. While ICIMOD’s research station was found to be substantially damaged, the Task Force continues to work with NASA to assess landslide and river blockage situation in the entire earthquake affected areas.
  • The Task Force found that villages in the Langtang valley were destroyed by air pressure waves sweeping down the steep slopes of the valley, landslides, and avalanches in the aftermath of the earthquake. The avalanches made of snow and ice mixed with rock material accelerated on the way down the steep valley slopes, displacing the air and creating strong pressure waves. As a result the eight highest villages in the Langtang Valley were damaged or completely destroyed and many lives were lost. Early analysis of photographs and satellite imagery suggests that the debris and ice had accumulated in the past near an elevation of about 4500 meter above mean sea level as a result of ice avalanches and rock fall from Langtang Lirung.
  • The Task Force is studying and analyzing the destruction in Langtang caused by the earthquake and the subsequent avalanches, landslides, and pressure waves to evaluate and map hazards in the future.
  • On request from the Ministry of Home Affairs, ICIMOD’s in-house GIS experts prepared two maps for the Tsho Rolpa area in Dolakha District. This included a map showing Google Earth image of Na village before the 12 May earthquake. A second map received from Esri world imagery identified rock fall locations near Na village, possibly triggered by the second aftershock.
  • A map profiling Ward 5 of the Kathmandu Municipality was also shared with the Office of the Prime Minster.
  • ICIMOD’s request for tasking of satellite images of Tsho Rolpo area has been registered. The images can help bring more clarity on the situation.
  • ICIMOD is developing detailed damage assessment and profiling using remote sensing assessment techniques and field data assimilation for four VDCs - Asrang VDC in Gorkha District, Sangachok VDC of Sindhupalchok District, and Sankhu of Pukulachhi VDC and Ward No. 5 of Kathmandu District. These prototypes will result in an online application that provides complete damage status of these VDCs.
  • ICIMOD has started working on developing ‘Approach Papers’ for each of its pilots, action research, and capacity building sites in earthquake affected VDCs.

 Relief Provision

In consultation with the Government of Nepal, ICIMOD continued to provide immediate relief support to partners, communities, and families reaching out to areas where it has worked with communities through its projects and pilots.

ICIMOD’s relief works this week focused in Kavre district, particularly in climate smart village pilot sites under the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP). Among others, the ICIMOD Relief Team:

  • Coordinated relief distribution with local authorities, including chief district officer, police authority, local development officer, and concerned VDC officers.
  • Coordinated with Dabur Nepal Pvt. Ltd. for relief materials.
  • Provided the necessary relief with support from local farmers group and ICIMOD/HICAP national partner – Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development  (CEAPRED).
  • Distributed relief materials like blankets, tarps, mattresses, rice, lentil, cooking oil, dry packaged food, first aid kits and medicines, water purifiers, clothes, and children’s food to 890 households in the five villages of Dhaitar, Naubise, Nayagaon, Kalchhebesi, and Patlekhet.
  • Organized a medical check-up in collaboration with KIST Medical College for 300 households.

ICIMOD also distributed tarps to around 100 of its staff after the 12 May earthquake. Water purifiers and medicines were also distributed.

ICIMOD will continue to support needy communities and families. In the coming days, ICIMOD will look at providing medium-term rehabilitation, with particular focus on community building.