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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 May 2015) . . Page.. 1575 ..

Of course, the ongoing risk of harm to people is very high. The United Nations has estimated that some 2.8 million people have been displaced. Current estimates have around 150,000 houses destroyed and another 136,000 damaged. The risk of disease outbreak is high. The United Nations has estimated that 1.7 million children alone are living without shelter and in desperate need of drinking water and sanitation. The UN estimates that over three million people are in need of food assistance. The rainy season is just around the corner, the onset of which will only serve to worsen the risks of disease outbreak.

In an assessment of hospitals across the affected districts, the World Health Organisation found that four out of 21 hospitals had been destroyed. The other 17 districts had functional hospitals but they required extra supplies. Of course, there are not only the physical injuries that have been inflicted. The grief and loss and fear and anguish that the Nepalese people are suffering must be immense: the grief of losing loved ones, of losing homes, villages and places of work; the anguish of caring for injured family and worrying about their health; the anguish of worrying about food and water and having somewhere to sleep; and the fear of it happening again as the aftershocks continue to shake the country.

There is physical damage to public buildings, as well as homes. Engineers from around the world have gone to Nepal to undertake assessments as to the safety and integrity of structures. Nepal has also lost many of its UNESCO listed temples and structures. A Kathmandu University academic said, “Kathmandu was a city of temples. Now it is a city of tents.” The cost to the Nepalese people will be extensive, as the local economy benefited from international visitors to these sites.

But there is also the sadness that goes with the loss of sites that have great intrinsic and cultural value, aside from the financial benefit they bring. Structures that have been standing for centuries were turned to rubble in minutes. I have to say that I admire the optimism and resilience of a people who can commit to rebuilding these in five to seven years, as was being anticipated by archaeologists in Kathmandu.

The proportions of this disaster are humbling and the scale of loss is still not fully known, but we do know that many, many villages in remote regions of Nepal have been destroyed—some of them simply wiped off the map. Avalanches and landslides obliterated entire communities. In the Langtang Valley, a popular destination for trekkers and where an Australian is still missing, an avalanche two to three kilometres wide wiped out the villages of Ghodatabela and Langtang. This is just one example of the rural destruction that has taken place.

Earthquakes are, by their nature, random. They are not entirely predictable. We know that Nepal sits in an area of great earthly forces as the plates come together. Nepal is confronted with that geography that makes this threat one that is perhaps always in the back of the mind. That is perhaps compounded by issues such as a lack of transport and communications infrastructure in many parts of the country.

We are not, of course, powerless to respond. We can do things to help. The international community has stepped up to deliver aid to Nepal, including the

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