Some of the cruelest things the survivor of a devastating earthquake must endure are the aftershocks.

Already suffering from the destruction and death all around, each following tremor is a new trauma. And in Nepal — a densely populated and remote country squeezed between India and Tibet, where a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday — the aftershocks have been coming by the dozens.

So far officials put the death toll from the earthquake at 3,700*. But that number could easily rise dramatically. When large earthquakes strike hard-to-get-to regions of the world, it is often days before remote and possibly ruined towns are reached. When the Indian Ocean earthquake struck in December 2004, it was more than a week before anyone realized that certain communities had been entirely wiped out in parts of Indonesia.

The same scenario could be true for Nepal, where so far most of the international rescue effort has centered on the capital of Kathmandu. There, the destruction is hard to exaggerate. Survivors, too scared to be inside the city’s shattered buildings, are staying in the streets, huddled around campfires and under leaking tarps as a driving rain adds another level of misery. Hospitals are overwhelmed and undersupplied.

Making matters worse is a history in Nepal of insurgency, political impasse, and corruption. Survivors accuse the government of being slow to respond and leaving them vulnerable from the start. A Maoist insurgency ended a decade ago, but little progress has been made to mend differences. Political leaders have failed to agree on a new constitution.

Poor infrastructure is just one result of all this. But, right now, as rescuers frantically search the country for survivors, the true scale of such poor infrastructure is revealing itself tragically.

*UPDATED

The official death toll has now surpassed 4,000.

By Peter Gelling, GlobalPost
This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.