Engineers check Kathmandu homes

More than a thousand engineers have been checking damaged houses in Nepal’s capital and advising people about whether they are safe.

About 13,000 families have requested inspections of their homes since the magnitude-7.8 earthquake near Kathmandu on April 25, Nepal Engineers Association general secretary Kishore Kumar Jha said. More than 7,600 people died in the quake.

The association, which has 2,000 civil and structural engineers, has set up phonelines for people to request inspections. “We have been receiving calls constantly. We are trying to reach as many people as possible,” Jha said.

About 40% of the damaged houses inspected so far were considered safe, he said.

It is still unclear how many houses were damaged in the capital and how many are repairable. Some modern buildings — including upscale hotels and expensive homes — appear to have escaped largely unscathed. But there is widespread damage in poorer neighbourhoods.

Much of Kathmandu’s so-called old city area, home to many of its precious world heritage buildings, was destroyed. Many villages outside the capital also were completely flattened.

Police say about a third of Kathmandu’s population has left the city since the quake. Many have moved in with relatives, while some are staying in tents.

The confirmed death toll from the quake has risen to 7,652, with more than 14,500 injured.

Yesterday, some families of victims marked the end of the traditional Hindu mourning period. Many others will mark the day on Thursday, the 13th day since the earthquake.

It is customary among Hindus in Nepal to mourn for 13 days. During this time close family members stay at home, do not touch outsiders, and refrain from entertainment or eating salt.

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