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The April 25 Earthquake destroyed 13 houses in Jomsom, Mustang, but the way they were destroyed was different than elsewhere.

When the area was hit by the 7.8 magnitude earth quake, there was no visible damage to the houses, however people in Jomsom spent the night in the tents outside the houses as per the advice of the government. The next strong earthquake jolted the area on April 26th, which shook the buildings violently and that is when minor cracks began to appear, but the buildings were still intact. However, the cracks continued to grow in size and on the third day of the earthquake (April 27th), the buildings started failing. By April 28th 13 buildings collapsed as the cracks continued to expand rapidly. Unlike other places where the damages occurred with the first jolt on April 25th, it happened on the third and fourth day in Jomsom. Why did the buildings stay upright for two days and collapsed without major aftershocks after two days? Though it will be premature to pinpoint particular reason(s) for the delayed response without some level of field observation, an interesting event in progress in the area following the earthquake could help explain it.

The interesting event is as follows. The Kali Gandaki River flows through the middle of the valley with villages located within a short distance from the river bank on either side of the river.  During the earthquake, cracks were seen developing on the ground in most places on both sides of the river downstream from Jomsom. It was likely that the some cracks also developed in the river bed few meters upstream of the area where the houses collapsed.  According to the local people part of the river water began disappearing for sometime into the ground through these cracks on the morning of April 27th. Following the lowering of the river water level, the cracks on the ground and those in the buildings began expanding visibly. Fear spread among the residents. They removed valuable personal belonging from the houses to safe places in the tents. They were able to move stuff to safety by eight in the morning. Then buildings began collapsing. Two buildings collapsed by 9 in the morning.  Eleven other buildings collapsed by April 28th – the fourth day of the massive earthquake.

Thank God, people are all safe.

Title courtesy : Irene Upadhya

Until next