UN to quake-proof schools, hospital

KATHMANDU: The United Nations said Wednesday it would help to protect Nepal's schools and hospitals against earthquakes as it launched a scheme to reduce the impact of natural disasters in the country.

The UN said the risk of natural disasters in Nepal was growing as the population grew and climate change increased flooding and landslides.

Last week, dozens of people died in landslides and flash floods in rugged Nepal, which is also the world's 11th most earthquake-prone country.

"This new initiative is proposed to respond to the increasing risk of natural disasters that, along with growing population densities, will exacerbate the vulnerability of thousands of inhabitants," the UN said in a statement.

The plan is forecast to cost around 135 million dollars, with most of the money coming from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

It will focus on preventing schools and hospitals from collapse during earthquakes, and boosting the country's emergency services and flood prevention.

In 1988, an 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Nepal, killing more than 700 people.

Experts say a major earthquake in the capital Kathmandu, home to around two million people, would be catastrophic, with about two thirds of schools likely to collapse.