After Nepal Quake, Searching for a Sister

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In Nepal, a Brother’s Desperate Search

One of thousands of Nepalese struggling to find a friend or relative after the April 25 earthquake, Bishow Ram Shrestha went from hospital to hospital looking for Sita, his 27-year-old sister.

By Brian Dawson on Publish Date May 6, 2015.

Bishow Ram Shrestha was one of thousands of Nepalese struggling to find a friend or relative after the April 25 earthquake. His mission was to locate Sita, his 27-year-old sister, who was married and had a 2-year-old daughter.

He knew she had been in Basantapur Durbar Square, a Kathmandu neighborhood popular with tourists, with dozens of ancient temples and shops. But that clue alone was not much help. Calling her cellphone drew no answer. She was missing.

Faced with the chaos of collapsed buildings and limited communications, Mr. Shrestha was left to search with little or no help, often just guessing where best to look. For almost a week, he and Sita’s husband, Niroj, visited more than a dozen hospitals around Kathmandu, searching lists, wards and makeshift morgues.

The daily rhythm of search and disappointment continued until last Friday. That afternoon Mr. Shrestha received a call from the police confirming what he and his family had feared.

Search and rescue teams had found a woman’s body in the rubble, bruised and bloated, lying next to a handbag. Inside was a cellphone, and the police were able to download the call history and identify a phone number that it had called the most. The number was her brother’s.

Summoned to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, he and his brother-in-law were led crying into a room and shown the body. It was hers. Sita Shrestha was gone, but no longer missing.


Villagers searched on Wednesday for their belongings in the rubble of houses that were destroyed in Barpak, Nepal, during last month’s earthquake.

Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

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