Less than three weeks ago, a devastating 7.8-magnitude quake killed more than 8,000 people, flattened entire villages and left hundreds of thousands homeless in Kathmandu, Nepal. This week, yet another powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck, killing dozens of people and displacing thousands more.
In the midst of it all, pregnant 29-year-old Asha Shrestha approached her due date. While she was in labour in an operating theatre in Prashuti Griha Hospital, the second earthquake struck. Terrified Asha watched cracks appear in the walls of a Kathmandu maternity unit and felt the ground shake beneath her feet. Plaster began falling from the walls and patients ran for their lives.
Her distressed relatives carried her from the room and sheltered in a tent after the powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit, killing dozens of people and sending thousands more rushing out in to the streets of the capital Kathmandu.
An hour later, Ms Shrestha gave birth to her daughter in an emergency room and lay down side-by-side with other new mothers and their babies in a corridor but her home was destroyed.
One of Ms Shrestha’s relatives who were waiting outside the operating theatre when the ground began to shake at around 12.35pm local time Tuesday said:
‘Doctors were ready with a syringe, when the earthquake started. I got very scared. We only had 10 minutes left till the surgery officially started and the walls started cracking around me.’
Chaos ensued as patients began running and the hospital was evacuated. Doctors waited with Ms Shrestha until the ground stopped shaking before her family burst into the room and carried her to the safety of a tent in an open space outside.
Ms Shrestha’s husband Bharat, 38, who was outside the hospital at this time, said: ‘I was at the main gate of the hospital. I was very worried about what had happened to them.’
She sat in the tent in pain before being rushed to an emergency room by doctors, where she gave birth to a baby girl. Ms Shrestha, who only remembers being scared before waking up with her new daughter, said: ‘I am fine now. We are so happy our child is safe, and are happy to be parents again but Asha cannot stop worry. She is fretting non-stop. She keeps saying “what will we do? How will we live”.’
The baby girl is their third child. Their other daughters are staying in a make-shift home in the ruins of their house in Swayambhu.
‘Our house was an old mud house,’ Mr Shrestha added. ‘It has collapsed completely, and we haven’t even had time to get our things out. We have no home to take her back to.’
Yet, of all the things to be worried about, the father of the newborn seems to be more concerned about what to name their newborn. He said: ‘What do I name someone who was born in this earthquake?’