The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, February 01, 2016, Page Page 4, Image 4

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    ASIA / PACIFIC
Page 4 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
February 1, 2016
Nepal formally begins much-delayed earthquake reconstruction
By Binaj Gurubacharya
The Associated Press
UNGMATI, Nepal — Nepal has
officially launched the much-
delayed reconstruction of about 1
million homes and buildings nearly nine
months after they were damaged by a
devastating earthquake that killed 9,000
people.
Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli
unveiled plans to rebuild Bungmati, an old
town just south of Kathmandu, to initiate
the reconstruction campaign that is
expected to take years and cost billions of
dollars. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari
laid the foundation stones for rebuilding a
temple and garden with a pond next to it in
Kathmandu.
It is still not clear when work on other
more devastated areas will begin, and
people in northern mountain villages who
are living in tents in freezing weather
likely will have to wait for months.
Nepal has been criticized for delaying
the much-needed reconstruction work
because of disagreements among political
parties, drafting the country’s new
constitution, ethnic protests, and severe
fuel shortages.
Foreign donors have pledged $4.1 billion
for earthquake reconstruction, but little
has reached Nepal because setting up the
new National Reconstruction Authority to
handle the task took months.
“We will move the reconstruction
B
campaign at full speed. Next year there
won’t be damaged houses here. It will be a
clean and beautiful town,” Oli told the
cheering people in the farming town,
where seven people died and 1,166 houses
were damaged.
Asha Kaji Shakya, a 60-year-old farmer,
said he was angry at the government
because it was taking months to get any
help.
“I have a family of seven living in this
shade for months. Our family home is
damaged and not livable and I have no
money,” Shakya said, showing the shelter
made from old tin and bricks salvaged
from fallen houses.
“I am hopeful the government will
finally give the money and we can at least
begin to build our house,” said Ram
Krishna Tuladhar, a shop owner whose
four-floor house was reduced to two floors.
People like Shakya and Tuladhar have
been promised 200,000 rupees ($1,850) in
government grants and another 1.5
million rupees ($13,890) in loans from the
government. They have not seen the
money and the government is still not sure
when they will be able to provide it to the
families.
Sushil Gyewali, who heads the new
SLOW RECOVERY. Nepalese people help re-
construct the Boudanath Stupa, which was damaged
in the April 2015 earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The massive quake killed nearly 9,000 people and
damaged about 1 million homes. (AP Photo/Niranjan
Shrestha)
agency, said they would like to train
thousands of construction workers and are
sending 1,500 engineers to villages to get
damage assessments.
“We have been given five years to
complete our task. It will not take [a] whole
five years and I think in three years all
private houses can be reconstructed,”
Gyewali said.
The agency would also come up with
plans and instruction on how new houses
should be built, obtaining financial help
from the government, and providing any
technical help to homeowners.
The delay also frustrated foreign donors
and international agencies like OXFAM
that have been waiting for building
guidelines so they can help communities
rebuild.
“The moment there are no instruction
for reconstruction is very problematic for
communities because they don’t have
guidelines on how to reconstruct their
houses,” said the chief of the OXFAM
Nepaal office, Cecilia Keizer. “There are no
clear-cut instructions from the govern-
ment of how they could construct their
houses, but also what kind of financial
support will come when … It has all been
delayed and that for us difficult.”
Asians haul out sweaters to cope with sudden cold snap
By Grant Peck
The Associated Press
ANGKOK — After recently
sweating through unseasonably
high temperatures, residents of
semi-tropical Thailand have had to
scavenge through their closets for
sweaters and scarves to keep the chill off
their bones.
Much of the rest of Asia was also
shivering.
In Hong Kong, the mercury dipped to
its lowest in six decades. The rest of
southern China also recorded unusually
cold weather, with record-breaking low
temperatures in many places.
In Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, the
temperature dropped to 5.4º Celsius (42º
Fahrenheit), the lowest since 1977.
Meteorologists
said
mountaintop
snowfalls across a dozen northern
provinces were unprecedented.
Temperatures in Bangkok, Thailand’s
capital, hit an unseasonably high of 34.6º
C (93º F) only to plunge to a low of 16.1º C
(61º F) within two days. The weather
remained cool and Bangkok residents
could be seen wearing jackets and wool
caps.
Schools in Bangkok advised parents to
bundle up their little ones with extra
warm clothing.
At piers along the banks of the Chao
Phraya River, where packs of dogs cozy
up to friendly tourists and vendors
grilling food, some canines were dressed
up in old shirts and discarded blankets,
the work of a kind volunteer caretaker.
In provincial areas farther north, cold
winter weather is not so unusual.
Students in the city of Chiang Mai added
fashionable jackets and sweaters to their
ensembles, while country folk warmed
themselves around bonfires at night.
Bangkokians had mixed feelings about
the cold.
Sampao Jampimai, 43, said the cold
temperatures made would-be customers
rush past her shoe store without
stopping. She said it was so cool that her
fingers stiffened in the morning, but it
was exciting to have a rare opportunity to
don her winter clothes.
B
TAEHAN TROUBLES. In this image made from Asso-
ciated Press Television News video, a North Korean man ice
fishes on the frozen Taedong River in Pyongyang, North Ko-
rea. The depths of winter have hit North Korea, with temper-
atures dropping lower than last year. (Associated Press
Television News via AP)
Winter returns to
Pyongyang with more
bite than last year
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — A cold
snap in the North Korean capital had residents
ice fishing on the Taedong River.
The whole country hit colder than minus 16º
Celsius (3º Fahrenheit) last month.
“This kind of cold can come once or twice a
year,” said Ri Yong Nam of the State
Hydro-Meteorological Agency. “It seems that
the Taehan has not forgotten and now it’s here.”
Taehan means “great cold,” and North
Koreans are quite familiar with it.
Small groups of men brave the cold to squat
on the frozen Taedong River running through
central Pyongyang in hopes of catching a few
fish. They hack holes through 16 inches of ice to
send thin lines into the water below.
A man pulls out a tiny reward, a fish called
sokari in Korean, golden Mandarin fish in
English.
Thermal underwear, multiple layers, big
coats, hats, hoods, scarves, and gloves to cover
any remaining exposed skin are necessary to
survive the winter in Pyongyang. And there is
only so much one can do to come in from the
cold: North Korea’s power shortages mean that
few public buildings, homes, and offices have
much heating.
Strong winds also made the cold much more
biting in Pyongyang.
Ri said this winter is colder than the last. The
weather was on track to get warmer, although
warmer means closer to the freezing point.
FROSTY IN FUJIAN. A woman plays in the light snowfall on a tea plantation in the Pinglin mountain
area of New Taipei City, Taiwan. After recently sweating through unseasonably high temperatures, residents
of semi-tropical Thailand have had to scavenge through their closets for sweaters and scarves to keep the
chill off their bones. Much of the rest of Asia was also shivering. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Other parts of Asia more accustomed firefighters, 39 ambulances, and rescue
to cool winter temperatures were helicopters were deployed for the
operation.
nonetheless also caught by surprise.
In
northern
Vietnam,
many
In Japan, the unusual cold brought
sleet as far south as Okinawa, a kindergartens and primary schools were
subtropical island known for its mild closed when temperatures dropped
winters. Another southern island, below 10º C (50º F). Heavy snow
Amami-Oshima, recorded its first snow blanketed the popular northern resort
in more than a century.
city of Sapa, where dozens of cows and
Record snowfalls hit Nagasaki and buffaloes reportedly died in the cold.
other cities in Kyushu, the southernmost
Guangzhou, the capital of China’s
of Japan’s four main islands. Some industrial powerhouse, Guangdong
communities in Kyushu were without province, saw its first snowfall in half a
water service, state broadcaster NHK century, while other southern and
reported, after the rare deep freeze burst central areas, including coastal Fujian
water pipes, draining supplies.
and mountainous Chongqing in the west,
Temperatures dipped below freezing also experienced rare sprinklings of snow
at higher elevations in Hong Kong, and ice.
prompting throngs of the curious
Flights were disrupted and power to
unaccustomed to such chilly tempera- about 80,000 households in the tourist
tures to head to the city’s highest heartland of Yunnan province was
mountain to try to catch a glimpse of knocked out.
frost.
At least one death was blamed on the
Many were also hoping to see snow weather, that of a woman in Chongqing
after rumors started circulating on social who fell through the bars on the balcony
media that it was on the way, but the of her 24th-floor apartment while
government dismissed the reports.
watching the snow fall.
Some 129 people had to be rescued,
Associated Press writers Hrvoje Hranjski
including
67
runners
in
an
in Bangkok, Tran Van Minh in Hanoi,
ultramarathon that had to be cancelled
Vietnam, Kelvin K. Chan in Hong Kong,
halfway through, the government and
Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo, and Christopher
Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.
news reports said. More than 300