Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
A satellite image-based map shows how drastically Kathmandu city changed.
Nepal is slowly picking up the pieces after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck last week. The disaster brought the country to its knees—causing a Himalayan avalanche, reducing much of Kathmandu city and surrounding villages to rubble, and killing thousands.
As rescue and relief operations pick up pace, new mapping efforts try to help guide aid workers. This swipe-able map showing Kathmandu city before and after the earthquake is one such project. The map, created by the GIS software company Esri, provides a window into the quake's devastation for all of us who aren't directly affected by it.
Esri developed the map using images gathered by the Pléiades satellite, and acquired by Airbus Defence and Space (the section of the Airbus company that deals with defense- and space-related products and services). Airbus compared snapshots of Kathmandu taken on November 29, 2014, with those taken on April 27, 2015, two days after the quake, so international disaster management agencies could take stock of the damage.
Swipe to see how starkly different these areas around Kathmandu's two key historical sites looked following the quake, for example:
Esri also compiled all such images from the two days into one map of the entire city, pinpointing the sites affected by the quake. (The red dots in the map below show the ones that have suffered major damage, for example; the purple ones show the buildings that have been completely destroyed.)
While the rest of the world moves on, the Esri map serves as an important visual reminder that the Nepalese are still reeling from the effects of the powerful earthquake, and will be for some time. Check out the map here: