As time for mourning ends, Nepal turns focus to repair and recovery

Story highlights

  • The death toll from the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 is 7,802
  • More than 10% of the nation's houses were destroyed or damaged

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN)On the 13th day of Nepal's tragedy, the nation ended a period of mourning that is customary in Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

Mourners took ritual baths in the Bagmati River and offered prayers for the loved ones they lost in the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that rocked this Himalayan country April 25.
In Kathmandu, the capital, signs of normalcy blossomed next to the scars of disaster.
    At Tudikhel, the sprawling city's largest green space, rows of bright blue tents flown in by the Chinese government provided shelter for hundreds of families displaced from their homes.
    Under an recreational tent sponsored by Samsung, people sat on the floor watching a Nepalese movie on a large flat screen. Inside another tent, Japanese medics provided care for the sick.
    Some people said they would remain here for a while, their homes damaged to the point of being unsafe. Tremors from aftershocks can still be felt here.
    The earthquake's death toll now stands at 7,803. The Kathmandu district took the brunt of the losses, with 3,035 fatalities. Nepal's National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC), says 403 people are believed to missing. It's the first time the agency has released a figure of those unaccounted for.
    More than 10% of the country's homes were destroyed (299,588) or damaged (269,107), according to NEOC data.

    Kathmandu residents take stock of damage

    Just outside the gates of Tudhikel, a traumatized city was starting to come back to life. Many shops opened for the first time and traffic jams returned with a vengeance.
    And all over the capital, donation boxes for earthquake victims have surfaced. At an upscale coffee shop in Kathmandu's tourist district, a sign read: "You have two hands. One is to pour latte and the other to help quake victims."
    Normally, the city would be bustling with tourists at this time of year. But after the quake, many foreigners left and it was an easy walk through the narrow streets. At Durbar Square, where Nepal's historic temples and palaces once stood, tourists have been replaced by residents who have started to venture out to take a look at all that they have lost.
    The government has already asked search-and-rescue teams from 34 countries to leave and is now focusing on relief and rehabilitation.

    Devastation in Langtang valley

    Of the 403 estimated missing people, 113 are foreigners, the NEOC said. A vast majority are tourists who were in Langtang valley, a popular spot for trekkers north of Kathmandu, when the quake hit.
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    "This number still needs to be verified," police spokesman Sarbendra Khanal told CNN, saying it was calculated from missing persons reports and notices from foreign missions. "We have to match this with immigration and tourism offices."
    According to Sarad Pradhan of Nepal Tourism Board, 17 of the missing are French.
    Most of the Nepalese are in Nuwakot district, northwest of Kathmandu, and Sindhupalchowk district, northeast of Kathmandu.
    Among the missing is American Dawn Habash, whose daughter Yasmine arrived in Nepal two days ago to go in search of her mother.
    Much of Langtang is now shattered, covered in a blanket of muck from a landslide. Up to 600 trekkers and their guides and porters were reported missing there. The bodies of about 100 people have been recovered from the region.
    Yasmine Habash left for Langtang with one week's worth of supplies.
    "I don't know how I will leave that area without her," she said. "I don't think I can."