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Report on Initial Investigation of the April 2015 Nepal Earthquake (Report 3) : Investigative Team Has Returned Home

 

Two members of the investigative team that went to Nepal on May 3rd and continued the investigation returned home on May 14th. Therefore, including the member who had already returned, all members have safely come home.
 
On May 12th, the day before the two members were to return, there was a large M7.3 aftershock. Due to this, there were worries about their returning home; nevertheless, they were able to complete their duties and safely return home.

 

 

From May 4th until May 12th, the investigative team exchanged information with four organizations, including the U.N. Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), as well as ICT related organizations in Nepal.
 
The team also exchanged information with two experts; additionally, it investigated five locations that were struck by the earthquake, as well as four refugee camps. In report 2 (only in Japanese), we included some information on the state of the areas affected, and in report 3 we detail some of the investigation’s results.

 

   

In the past, BHN has helped with setting up CA systems (Community Addressing System), restoring FM radio stations, and providing mobile phone charging services for emergency aid in countries like the Philippines, Haiti, and Myanmar in response to disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
 
Just as we have in the past, in response to this earthquake, we met with Nepali organizations we had contacted before and confirmed the need for these services.

 

As a result of the meeting, we learned that there are nearly 500 FM radio stations throughout Nepal, and that they constitute the mass media that covers almost the entire country. Furthermore, we discovered that dozens of community FM radio stations were damaged as a result of this earthquake.
 
On one hand, we learned that CA systems do not have a very good reputation in Nepal because in some cases they have caused noise complaints owing to the fact that CA systems rely on the use of loudspeakers to convey information. In addition, refugee camps that we had assumed to be the sites for installing CA systems are being closed down in succession.
 
On the other hand, we received requests from the U.N. ETC, as well as from a number of other organizations to assist with recovery of damaged community FM radio stations. Furthermore, in regards to a mobile phone charging service, it is true that needs for such a service exist, but these needs are mostly from remote areas in the mountains. Due to this, we found that there would be considerable difficulty associated with providing traveling mobile phone charging services.

 

Therefore, in order to investigate the damage to community FM radio stations, we visited Radio Sindhu (105 MHz, 100W) in one of the most damaged areas, Sindhupalchowk district, which is approximately 90km east of Kathmandu.

 

   

 

The office building that housed the station was cracked by the earthquake, causing it to be uninhabitable. Therefore, the broadcasting equipment was transported from the building, and the station’s broadcast was finally restarted two days after the earthquake.
 
The tent that replaced the studio was donated the day before we visited. Before that, the people who run the station were forced to broadcast from an extremely small tent that barely fit one person. At present, the tent is set up on the premises of the district’s administrative affairs office.
 
The tent needs to be removed soon, but the station cannot be sent back to its original building. Therefore, the station’s manager is searching for vacant land from which to broadcast.

 

Here at BHN, we hope to quickly advance plans to create and implement an aid project based on the information that we have obtained from the area, as well as the requests that we have received.

English translation by Mariah Gomes

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