Updated at 12:30 p.m.
, news editor, Adventist Review
The leader of the Adventist Church in Nepal said overwhelming fear gripped the capital, Kathmandu, after a major earthquake struck on Tuesday, two weeks after another earthquake killed more than 8,000.
Umesh Pokharel, president of the Nepal Section, part of the Southern Asia Division, asked for Adventist believers worldwide to pray for the country.
“This earthquake has caused more damage, and the church in Nepal needs your special prayers and support,” Pokharel told the Adventist Review. “Starting tomorrow, the Nepal Section needs to move to reach victims and address their needs.”
He added: “We are nearing the end of Earth’s history. Jesus is coming soon, and we need to be close to God and seek His will.”
Pokharel described a mood of uncertainty and fear in the capital on Tuesday night. Many people were choosing not to cook food and instead eat dry food as they listened to the news and called loved ones.
“People are so afraid and all are sleeping in temporary shelters,” he said.
Electricity was out, and communication networks were buckling under the load of phone calls, he said.
The 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck as Pokharel was meeting in his office with other local church leaders to review their relief efforts from the last earthquake.
“We were evaluating the relief work and planning the next phase,” he said. ‘Suddenly the earthquake hit, and somehow we got out of the building.
Pokharel has led the Adventist Church in Nepal in distributing hundreds of tents, sacks of rice, boxes of instant noodles, and other aid to Adventist believers and their neighbors since the April 25 earthquake, which had a 7.8 magnitude.
Pokharel and his colleagues joined thousands of Kathmandu residents in fleeing into the streets when the earthquake struck at around 12:35 p.m. local time Tuesday.
The earthquake killed at least 37 people and injured more than 1,000, Nepalese authorities said. Another 17 people were reported killed in neighboring India.
“We are taking shelter outside,” Pokharel said. “This earthquake has caused so much damage.”
Pokharel sent photos of people milling around crumbled buildings in Kathmandu on Tuesday afternoon. One photo showed a bus that crashed as a result of the earthquake. Twenty-four people were injured, four critically, Pokharel said.
All shops have been closed, and the government has announced that schools would not open until the end of May, Pokharel said.
Meanwhile, anxiety was running deep in the city, he said. Many people who had come to Kathmandu for various reasons after the last earthquake were now trying to leave. Pokharel said he also was feeling pressure to go.
“My parents live in another city near the Indian boarder and are asking us to go there,” he said. “But I cannot do that because we need to take care of our members and be with them at this time of need.”