The New York Times had an especially illuminating eye-witness account from a westerner who lives in Katmandu--Donatella Lorch:
I first came to Katmandu in 1983 as a backpacker and returned while working on a master’s degree in Indic studies. My husband’s job brought me back once more. A population boom had transformed the Katmandu Valley, its three cities now home to 2.5 million residents. We found a place with horrific air pollution, traffic that never seemed to move and garbage everywhere. Yet my son and I have been happy here. The quirky, cynical, self-deprecating humor of Nepalis charmed me from the first day.
Within 40 seconds on Saturday, everything changed. The Durbar Squares in Katmandu and Patan where tourists thronged — ancient plazas graced with temples and fountains opposite the old royal palaces — had been reduced to rubble, with only a few structures left standing. One of my favorite shrines, famous for its white domes and four giant, fearsome brass dragons with talons raised, is now a pile of cracked red bricks and dust.
Those who survived know they are lucky. Lucky that this did not happen during the frigid winter or monsoon season. Lucky that the quake hit in daylight rather than at night, when more people would have been indoors and casualties would have been worse. Lucky that it was a Saturday, when children were not in schools, most of which were shoddily built.
The urban valley is reliant for gasoline on shipments by truck from India, so things are going to be difficult during the rebuilding process. And, of course, it is anticipated that more deaths will be discovered as villages are visited over the next few days. If you know anything about the region, you are encouraged to share your spatial knowledge at: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/2015_Nepal_earthquake