Relief Work on Hold in Nepal as Rescue Takes Priority Again After Aftershocks

Indian soldiers with a rescued baby at the field hospital in Kathmandu, after Nepal was rocked by massive aftershocks on Tuesday.

Kathmandu: Thousands of Kathmandu residents spent the night out in the open after renewed aftershocks through the night made them leave their homes.

A magnitude 4 quake at 3 am on Wednesday morning jolted thousands from their sleep, yet another reminder that tectonic plates deep underground were still shifting after yesterday's magnitude 7.1 aftershock which left at least 48 dead and more than a 1000 injured.

Today, several weeks after the Nepal government changed its focus from rescue to relief after the devastating earthquake of April 25, in which more than 8000 lost their lives, things seem to have come back to square one presently.

From first light, Nepalese, Indian, and US choppers were flying to the worst affected areas of Charikot to the northeast of Kathmandu, and returning with casualties.

With some government hospitals badly damaged in the aftershocks, up to 50 patients are being transferred to the Indian Army's tented Field Hospital in Senamangal, near Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport.

Among those flown in this morning was a little smiling baby, uninjured by the quake, along with his mother who was barely conscious when she made it here. But the news for the little boy is good. His mother will survive - her badly injured leg will be treated by the doctors.

"We'll carry on as long as it takes," is what doctors at the Indian Army's Senamangal Field Hospital have to say. This, after being told that they were to return to India on Saturday.

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Now, in the aftermath of yesterday's magnitude 7.1 aftershock, 24 patients were brought in last night. Three have had orthopedic surgeries and 10 are recovering in a fast-filling ward.

Just two days ago, after a massive storm ripped out 7 medical tents, jawans here physically held on to the remaining tents to keep patients safe.

Today, with some desi jugaad to stabilize their remaining field tents, these Army doctors are fully ready to operate on a war footing and have been cleared to carry out deliveries of babies by Nepalese authorities, who have cleared out some of their own hospitals after yesterday's tremors.

In addition to dealing with cases here, a full team of surgeons has been deployed this morning to Charikot, which is emerging as the worst-hit area. The team includes a surgeon, an anaesthologist, a radiologist and more than a dozen paramedics. They will now be providing primary care in the area.

With the full extent of the casualties unclear, the multinational team of doctors in Kathmandu now have their hands full.