Causes of deaths and injuries in the 2015 Gorkha (Nepal) earthquake

Marla A. Petal

Published July 18, 2018, SCEC Contribution #8152, 2018 SCEC Annual Meeting Poster #317

The Mw7.8 April 25, 2015 Gorkha Earthquake took place on a Saturday, at 11:56am and reached maximum intensity of IX (MMS). The earthquake and its aftershocks killed more than 8,800 people and injured more than 22,000. There is urgent need to better understand protective actions for earthquakes in Nepal and elsewhere. Future earthquakes in Nepal are expected to have more devastating impacts, in the absence of more robust, extensive, and well-coordinated programs of public awareness, and facilitation of risk mitigation. The purpose of this study was to identify the causes of injuries and deaths, to provide a scientific basis for education and training of the public, and to add to the global body of knowledge about earthquake epidemiology.

The survey was conducted 11 months after the earthquake, among 500 households in 10 of the hardest-hit villages located in 5 of the 14 hardest-hit districts. The households surveyed had 1,855 members present at the time of the earthquake: 88% were uninjured, 10% were injured, and 2% died. Most of the households sampled were stone and brick masonry construction, referred to as gārowālā (as distinguished from pillarwālā construction which is typically reinforced concrete or masonry and has a frame or columns).

Research questions were:
• What specific risk factors are associated with injuries of different severity?
• What hazards in the built environment and building typologies have specific risks for human casualties?
• What specific risk mitigation efforts will decrease deaths and injuries?
• What specific behavior during and after an earthquake may decrease deaths and injuries?
• How important is rapid search and rescue and medical treatment to injury outcomes?
• What disaster preparedness measures are identified by earthquake survivors as both feasible and effective?

Significant findings are organized around:
• The hazard (shaking frequency, ground acceleration, and ground displacement)
• Individuals and behavior
• The buildings
• The injuries
• Protective action
• Mitigation and preparedness measures

Based on the findings, key recommendations were developed for individuals and households covering: situational risk awareness, assessment and planning, risk reduction, and response preparedness as well as recommendations for the scientific and advocacy community for public discussion and consensus-building.

Key Words
earthquake, epidemiology, Nepal

Petal, M. A. (2018, 07). Causes of deaths and injuries in the 2015 Gorkha (Nepal) earthquake . Poster Presentation at 2018 SCEC Annual Meeting.

Related Projects & Working Groups
Communication, Education, and Outreach (CEO)