TIME Nepal

U.S. Marine Helicopter Missing in Nepal Quake Aid Mission

Nepalese soldiers and policemen wait for a Chinese transport helicopter during relief operations in the north-central village of Dunche in Nepal on May 7, 2015.
Roberto Schmidt—AFP/Getty Images Nepalese soldiers and policemen wait for a Chinese transport helicopter during relief operations in the north-central village of Dunche in Nepal on May 7, 2015.

It was conducting disaster relief operations near Charikot

(WASHINGTON) — A U.S. military helicopter carrying six Marines and two Nepalese Army soldiers went missing during a mission in Nepal delivering aid to earthquake victims, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday, but so far there have been no indications that the aircraft crashed.

U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren said an Indian helicopter in the air nearby at the time heard radio chatter from the Marine aircraft about a possible fuel problem. He said the Huey, carrying tarps and rice, had dropped off supplies in one location and was en route to a second site when contact was lost. He said officials are hopeful that the aircraft is simply missing because there has been no smoke or other signs of a crash.

Navy Capt. Chris Sims says the Huey was conducting disaster relief operations near Charikot, Nepal, on Tuesday, around 9 a.m. EDT.

Warren said a Nepalese air brigade unit had seen the Huey, so Marines in V-22 Osprey aircraft searched near that last known location for about 90 minute but found nothing. Because it’s now dark, members of the Nepalese Army are conducting the search on foot. Warren said they are moving toward the second aid location to see if the helicopter landed near there.

Because of the rugged mountainous terrain, the helicopter could have landed in a low area but the Marines may not be able to get a beacon or radio signal out, Warren said. He added that U.S. airborne para-rescue forces have rehearsed rescue missions, and are ready to go if needed.

The aircraft is part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, and the incident is under investigation.

There are about 300 U.S. troops in Nepal assisting with the rescue mission, using a variety of aircraft including three Hueys, four Ospreys and several cargo planes.

TIME Nepal

Why Nepal Is Still Being Hit by Earthquakes

Nepalese military personnel remove debris in search of survivors after a fresh 7.3 earthquake struck, in Kathmandu on May 12, 2015.
Athit Perawongmetha—Reuters Nepalese military personnel remove debris in search of survivors after a fresh 7.3 earthquake struck, in Kathmandu on May 12, 2015.

Tuesday's quake has set off its own series of aftershocks

A second major earthquake struck eastern Nepal on Tuesday, less than three weeks after the country was devastated by a quake on April 25 that claimed over 8,000 lives. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Tuesday’s quake measured 7.3 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, which succeeded the Richter scale in the 1970s, and struck 50 miles east of the capital Kathmandu, close to Mount Everest. Tremors were felt in several Indian states, Bangladesh and China.

At least 42 people have been killed in and more than 1,000 others have been injured. Here’s why Nepal has been struck again and what to expect next.

What is an aftershock?

Large-magnitude earthquakes tend to be followed by several smaller magnitude earthquakes known as aftershocks.

Aftershocks look and act exactly the same as earthquakes, except that they are smaller than the mainshock and defined in their relation to the main event. The only difference is that an aftershock occurs in the same basic location, within an ‘aftershock zone’ and should occur before the rate of seismic activity returns to its pre-mainshock level.

Is Tuesday’s Nepal earthquake an aftershock?

Some aftershocks can occur on nearby faults outside the normal ‘aftershock zone’, but Tuesday’s quake could be seen as separate quake. Whereas the April quake’s epicenter was west of Kathmandu, the May 12 one struck east of the capital, near the Chinese border.

Tuesday’s quake has also sparked off another round of seismic jolts in its wake. Just 30 minutes after the 7.3 quake, an aftershock of 6.3 magnitude hit. There have been another five major aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or higher.

So are the two unrelated?

There is evidence to suggest that earthquakes can trigger other earthquakes, even outside of their ‘aftershock zones.’ Nepal sits on a continental collision zone between the Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate and the stress changes caused by the first April quake likely triggered the second earthquake on Tuesday. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) forecast an aftershock in that general area: its modelling suggested a 0.5% chance of a quake between 7 and 7.8 on the scale occurring this week.

Have there been lots of aftershocks since the Nepal quake on April 25?

A steady stream of aftershocks rattled Nepal in the aftermath of the April quake, initially at 15-20 minute intervals. One day after the quake, a shock of magnitude 6.7 struck the same region, causing fresh avalanches on Mount Everest, a landslide on a major highway and was felt in several parts of northern India. By May 1, more than 100 aftershocks with more than a 4.0 magnitude had occurred.

Will there be more to come after Tuesday’s earthquake?

Yes, in general, the greater the size of the earthquake, the higher the number of aftershocks. With any major earthquake, there will always be aftershocks. These can continue for weeks, months and even years. They tend to decrease in number but it’s very difficult to say when or where they’ll happen.

Could the next aftershock be worse?

Sometimes, aftershocks can be larger than the original earthquake, in fact making the original quake a foreshock, tremors that occur before and in the same area as the mainshock. But foreshocks can only be identified once the mainshock has occurred.

TIME Nepal

Nepal Rocked by Massive Fresh Earthquake

The country is still coping with the aftermath of a major quake on April 25

Nepal was hit Tuesday morning by another major earthquake, this time measuring 7.3 on the Richter magnitude scale. The epicenter was located 76 km east of the capital Kathmandu, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Nepalese home ministry officials said at least 65 people were killed in the quake across three countries, CNN reports, including at least 17 in India. Another was killed in Tibet, and the Nepal Home Ministry said the total injury toll across the region is now 1,926.

The quake, which was centered near Mt Everest, was strong enough to topple yet more buildings and cause further landslides in Nepal, as well as in northern India. The impact was felt as far away as New Delhi. Areas to the northeast of Kathmandu were said to be worst hit by the strong temblor, with 31 of the country’s 75 districts affected.

The country is still recovering from a devastating quake on April 25 that claimed over 8,000 lives.

Read next: How Photographers Are Using Instagram to Help Nepal

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Soccer

Soccer Star Cristiano Ronaldo Gives Millions to Nepal Earthquake Relief

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks on prior to the start the la Liga match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid CF at San Mames Stadium in Bilbao, Spain on March 7, 2015.
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce—Getty Images Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks on prior to the start the La Liga match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid at San Mames Stadium in Bilbao, Spain, on March 7, 2015

The soccer icon is well known for his acts of charity

UPDATE APPENDED

Cristiano Ronaldo is an expert at striking fear into the hearts of defenders, but off the soccer pitch he’s proved time and again that he’s one of the nicest guys in sports. And the superstar did so yet again recently, donating nearly $8 million to help global charity Save the Children carry out its earthquake-relief efforts in Nepal.

French magazine So Foot reported that Ronaldo donated €7 million (or $7.8 million) to the charity, because he wears No. 7 for his club Real Madrid and country Portugal. He also urged his 102 million Facebook followers to donate as well, according to Sports Illustrated.

Ronaldo is known for his philanthropic endeavors, having donated millions to children in Gaza as well as tsunami-relief efforts in Indonesia. He has also paid individual children’s medical bills on multiple occasions.

Nepal was devastated by a 7.8-magnitude quake on April 25 that has already claimed over 8,000 lives.

Update: Save the Children says the report that Ronaldo gave it a large donation is false. TIME has reached out to the soccer player’s agent for comment.

Read next: 6 Ways You Can Give to Nepal Earthquake Relief

TIME On Our Radar

How Photographers Are Using Instagram to Help Nepal

Photographers unite to contextualize the impact of Nepal's devastating earthquake

When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit central Nepal last month, the scale of the destruction was, at first, hard to assess. The few images that first emerged from the devastated country were, in some cases, spectacular in scope but lacking the proper information that would inform observers, especially families of potential victims, about the earthquake’s true impact.

A small community of photographers in Nepal and India, led by writer Tara Bedi and photographer Sumit Dayal, felt the need to pull its resources together “to collectively put out useful and credible information from people that we know and trust on the ground, all under one banner,” Bedi tells TIME.

That banner is the Nepal Photo Project, which they launched on Instagram and Facebook on April 26, a few hours after the earthquake hit.

Devastation in Shaku, Nepal. Photo by @ismailferdous #nepalphotoproject #nepalearthquake #nepal

A photo posted by NepalPhotoProject (@nepalphotoproject) on

Crowdsourcing images and information from its network of photographers — including Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati, Bhushan Shilpakar, Saagar Chhetri, Kishor Sharma and Shikhar Bhattarai — the Nepal Photo Project has, in just a few days, become a repository for human-interest photographs and stories.

“Our goal with NPP is to put out as much useful and helpful information as possible,” says Bedi. “Our main parameter for what we post is pretty simple: that it should communicate something purposeful or meaningful — be it the damage and devastation, links to reliable fundraising campaigns, photographs of missing people so they can be circulated as widely as possible, coverage of rescue and relief operations, citizen volunteer initiatives, links to resources like quakemap.org, [or] other relevant articles and images.”

The broken Dharahara tower in Kathmandu. Photo by @ismailferdous #nepalphotoproject #nepalearthquake #nepal #kathmandu

A photo posted by NepalPhotoProject (@nepalphotoproject) on

The group also sources images from other contributors, as long as they are tagged with #nepalphotoproject.

Bedi doesn’t see the Nepal Photo Project as a news-wire feed. “It’s much more personal,” she says. “Photographers have the freedom to express in a more ‘real’ and humane way and I think people connect to that.”

While the group’s Instagram feed is dedicated to the visual representation of this crisis, the Facebook group has become the nerve center where, for example, calls for volunteers and missing-person notices are issued.

The group chose Instagram and Facebook because “it is becoming evident that people tend to consume news and information through images,” says Dayal. “Nepal Photo Project is our way of attempting to make sure that the visuals become more functional and personal in nature as opposed to just devastation porn.”

Plus, “Instagram is super user-friendly,” he adds. “The search capabilities for hashtags and geo-tagged images have proved to be very useful to us for finding new contributors and verifying their authenticity.”

As Nepal slowly recovers from the earthquake, the group is already planning its future mission. “Kathmandu’s major monuments now exist only in photographs,” says Dayal. “One of the biggest realizations of the earthquake is the importance of ‘proper’ visual documentation. It’s quite difficult to comprehend that the next generation of Nepali children will grow up without this architecture that infused a vital cultural identity. As Nepal rebuilds itself, we intend to continue our work of sharing stories of human interest.”

Follow Nepal Photo Project on Instagram and Facebook.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Nepal

The Best Way to Help Nepal Recover From the Quake? Go There on Vacation

NEPAL-EVEREST-TRAIL
Roberto Schmidt—AFP/Getty Images A trekking path, lower right, is overshadowed by high-altitude peaks including Ama Dablam, top center, in a valley leading north into Nepal's Khumbu region, which is home to Mount Everest on April 18, 2015

Tourism dollars can help save the Nepali people from undue hardship

“We are pleased to inform you that Nepal is now safe to visit,” reads an email from Adventure Mountain Explore Treks & Expedition (AME treks) sent out on Wednesday. “If you have already booked your holiday or you are planning to, we welcome you with an open heart.”

The message from the Kathmandu-based mountaineering and sightseeing organizers represents a larger plea from the small Himalayan nation, as it continues to pick itself up from the devastating April 25 earthquake that claimed over 7,000 lives thus far.

“Nepal is very safe to travel,” said AME executive director Tika Regmi. “Life is back to normal.”

The 7.9-magnitude quake laid waste to large swaths of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu (including several iconic heritage sites) and entire villages across the countryside have been flattened, but companies and officials alike insist visiting the country is now more important than ever.

The quake came during Nepal’s summer trekking season, and its aftermath and gradual recovery will undoubtedly affect this year’s peak autumn trekking expeditions beginning in September — bookings for which Regmi says are already starting to be canceled.

Despite Nepal’s peerless natural beauty — boasting eight of the 10 highest mountains in the world — and ancient temples and palaces, this landlocked nation of 30 million only receives around 600,000 visitors a year, making tourism a key potential avenue for growth.

Ganga Sagar Pant, CEO of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), says there is no reason for Nepal’s tourism — currently contributing around 10% of GDP and jobs — to grind to a halt. “The world must go on,” he said. “The tourism products are still there — mountains, flora and fauna, jungles, trails.”

Pant says TAAN is planning “assessment” expeditions to popular trekking sites like the Mount Everest circuit, the Annapurna region (which includes the 10th highest mountain in the world) and the Langtang National Park in the weeks to come, so a more concrete picture of the earthquake’s impact can be formed.

MORE: 6 Ways You Can Give to Nepal Earthquake Relief

Nepal’s government is also in the process of collecting data on loss of infrastructure and damage to heritage sites and popular trekking paths. “But there are many other areas which could be new tourism products and destinations, so our focus is on that as well,” says Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesperson for Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation. “Our priority is to bring more tourists and provide them quality, safety, hospitality and other services to their satisfaction,” he says, expressing a desire to re-establish Nepal as a “safe, unique and attractive tourist destination.”

All three men — Regmi, Pant and Sapkota — insist that Nepal remains safe and urge people to come visit. The benefits are especially positive if visitors reside in homestays and frequent independent restaurants and shops.

“People from around the world are willing to help in this situation,” says Pant. “One important and sustainable way to do that is to help tourism here flourish again.”

TIME portfolio

James Nachtwey’s Dispatches From Nepal

TIME contract photographer James Nachtwey reports from the quake-devastated country

This is the first part in a two-part series of dispatches filed by TIME contract photographer James Nachtwey from Nepal, days after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated parts of the central Asian country. Read part two.

The journey began at the end. With the death toll rising, the funeral pyres at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu were consuming the mortal remains of the dead in a seemingly endless procession of ritualized grief, acceptance and farewell. So that the dead might be washed before cremation, stone steps led down to the Bagmati River, its waters clouded and filled with debris, much like the river of life. Ashes to ashes.

Nepal is a place I’ve long wanted to visit, not so much as a journalist, but to see the mountains and the temples. Now, many of the temples have been destroyed, and the mountains have become the backdrop to an epic tragedy.

In Bhaktapur, a few miles outside Katmandu, as the aftershocks subsided; people began to dig out by hand what was left of their possessions, with a sense of practicality and a lack of complaint.

Rescue teams continued to search for the missing, holding onto the unlikely hope for survivors. The cruel dynamic of an earthquake transforms the walls and beams of peoples’ homes into the instrument that kills them.

Stone deities and sacred symbols were also crushed beneath the weight of fallen temples, testifying to the unity of gods and men.

Flying in helicopter relief missions run by the Indian Army clearly showed the extreme difficulty of reaching the hundreds of destroyed villages. Landslides cut off the few villages reachable by road, leaving people to fend for themselves; isolated on steep hillsides that have been carved into cascading agricultural terraces.

In the town of Sankhu the scene was similar to Bhaktapur – urban dwellers, living in multiple story buildings searching in mountains of rubble for what might be saved from what had become their lives after the earthquake of 2015.

I would go on from the cities to see what had happened in the remote countryside.

James Nachtwey is a TIME contract photographer, documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues.

TIME Nepal

Thousands of Nepalese Pray for Earthquake Victims

From left to right, portraits of victims of the April 25 earthquake San Nanin Pandit, 40, and her children Sita Pandit, 20, and Samir Pandit, 18, are decorated with marigold garlands as family members mark the twelfth day of their death in a mourning room in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 6, 2015
Bernat Armangue—AP Portraits of victims of the April 25 earthquake are decorated with marigold garlands as family members mark the 12th day of their death in a mourning room in Kathmandu on May 6, 2015

"There are so many people and so many buildings we have all lost in the earthquake"

(KATHMANDU) — Thousands of Nepalese dressed in white offered prayers and flowers at home and in temples Thursday in a Hindu ritual marking the end of a 13-day mourning period for those killed in the country’s massive earthquake.

Families and friends also published condolence messages with photographs of victims in local newspapers.

The mourners gathered amid piles of stones, mud, bricks and wooden beams that once formed centuries-old temples, palaces and structures toppled in the April 25 quake, which killed more than 7,750 people. The main ceremony was held in the ruins of Kastamandap, a temple for which the capital, Kathmandu, was named.

“There are so many people and so many buildings we have all lost in the earthquake. I am here to show my support for these families and to say that we are all here for you,” said Alok Shrestha, a banker holding a bouquet of marigolds.

During the customary mourning period, close family members stay at home, do not touch outsiders and refrain from eating salt. No entertainment is allowed.

Nearly 500 people gathered at Kathmandu’s historic center, Basantapur Durbar Square, where temples were reduced to rubble, to offer prayers.

The central bank announced Thursday that people whose houses were damaged in the quake can obtain loans at a 2 percent interest rate. The average commercial loan rate is about 10 percent.

Nepal Rastra Bank official Min Bahadur Shrestha told state-run Radio Nepal that people in Kathmandu can receive loans of up to 2.5 million rupees ($25,000) and those outside the capital 1.5 million rupees ($15,000).

More than a thousand engineers are checking damaged houses in the capital and advising people about whether they are safe. It is still unclear how many houses were damaged and how many are repairable.

Bhimsen Das Shrestha, a lawmaker representing Kathmandu, said the government should introduce new rules to make buildings earthquake-resistant.

“When we rebuild the structures in Kathmandu, we need to consider new technologies in earthquake-prone areas,” he said.

Also Thursday, a U.N. health official said there have been no epidemics in areas hit by the earthquake or in camps where homeless people are sheltered.

Some cases of diarrhea have been reported, but that is normal for this time of year, said Poonam Singh, the World Health Organization’s deputy regional director for Southeast Asia.

She cautioned, however, that there could be problems during the monsoon season which begins next month.

The agency is sending medical treatment tents to 14 badly hit districts where health clinics were destroyed, she said.

TIME Innovation

Why Food From Forests Could Help Feed the World

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Education alone won’t end income inequality.

By Maureen Conway in the Aspen Journal of Ideas

2. Here’s why ISIS is so successful at recruiting young people.

By Jesse Singal in the Science of Us

3. Are there moral limits on free speech? (What if it gets someone killed?)

By Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View

4. Could food from forests help feed the world?

By Bhaskar Vira in the Conversation

5. Use data, not nepotism, to deliver aid to Nepal.

By Ravi Kumar in Time

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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