Nepal is marking the first anniversary of the powerful earthquake which killed thousands and rendered millions homeless. The 7.8-magnitude quake, along with several aftershocks, was one of the deadliest the small Himalayan nation experienced in many decades.

Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli led the tributes on 24 April, the eve of the anniversary in capital Kathmandu. Honouring the victims of the disaster, he also prayed for the deceased Nepalis.

Oli launched a reconstruction drive to build new homes for the survivors in three most affected districts. "Handicapped, helpless and single women should be given priority in the reconstruction drive," he said.

The government has been facing criticism for its poor rehabilitation efforts during the past one year. Despite aid pouring in from several countries and international bodies, the authorities have accused of not utilising the funds due to domestic political differences and bureaucratic inefficiency.

Nepal quake anniversary
Nepal Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli arrives to take part in an event to initiate the reconstruction at Swoyambhunath Stupa, a Unesco world heritage site a year after the 2015 earthquakes in Kathmandu, NepalNavesh Chitrakar/Reuters

The first deadly quake in April 2015 followed by a second major aftershock in May claimed close to 9,000 lives. More than 22,000 survived the disaster with injuries and up to three million people were affected.

The UN in Nepal marked the first year hailing the efforts of aid agencies and NGOs. The country's Resident Coordinator Craig Sanders said: "We would like to commend people of Nepal who responded so selflessly in the immediate aftermath of the quake. They are to be applauded for their resilience and bravery, and deserve to be recognised for their actions, which saved countless lives."

A statement jointly issued by five international organisations operating in the country – Unicef, World Vision, Terre des hommes, Save the Children and Plan International – said a lot of reconstruction efforts still need to be undertaken in the coming months.

Nepal quake anniversary
People lit candles creating the shape of the historic nine-storey Dharara tower and Kasthamandap temple to mark the first anniversary of the 2015 earthquakes at Bashantapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu, NepalNavesh Chitrakar/Reuters