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Utahns remember destructive earthquake of Nepal 1 year later

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Posted at 10:03 PM, Apr 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-26 00:03:52-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utahns are still feeling the heartache a year after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rattled Nepal.

"The death toll was 7,000 and for everyone who died, imagine the suffering of the people who survived," said Jim Webber.

On Monday, Webber, Stephanie Mackay and Scott Carrier looked through pictures that documented the aftermath.

"Look across a quarter mile and there’s nothing but devastation. It looked like a huge bomb had hit it," Carrier said.

Years before the quake hit, Webber decided to turn his love for the country into action. He built the Nepal Cleft and Burn Center. The four-story, 16,000-square-foot hospital opened a year before the disaster.

"It withstood the earthquake and it was up and running when Nepal needed it most," Webber said.

Instead of fixing cleft palates, the center's main doctor brought in cots and started performing emergency surgery. Nobody was turned away.

"Really a lot more people would’ve died if it hadn’t been for the availability of this hospital," Mackay said.

A year later, recovery is slow in this poor country.

"When I was there last month, I walked and drove by communities where people are still living in tents," Webber said.

However, there's no doubt that the people of Nepal are survivors.

"Nepal is an amazingly resilient country and the people there are spiritually rich and they`re going to make it," Webber said.

Webber's work is far from done. He is planning to build another hospital in the southeastern part of Nepal.

On May 6 there will be a fundraiser at 6 p.m. at Foothill Oriental Rugs: 1460 Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City.

The evening's events include dinner catered by "The Blended Table," the musical stylings of "St. Boheme," silent and live auctions, as well as presentations by Webber and Dr. Kirin Nakarmi, NC&BC Surgical Team Leader in Kathmandu, Nepal.

For more information visit nepalcleftandburncenter.org.