KATMANDU, Nepal: A strong 7.5-magnitude earthquake has hit near Nepal’s capital of Katmandu and the US Geological Survey says it expects heavy damage.
Early reports from Katmandu say some houses have been damaged and walls toppled.
Updated on 26-04-15 at 09:00
The toll from the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal has risen to 1,341 people, a police spokesperson said on Saturday. The quake ripped through large parts of Nepal, and northern India, toppling office blocks and towers in Kathmandu and triggering a deadly avalanche that hit an Everest base camp.
Of the total, more than 630 were reported dead in the Kathmandu Valley and at least 300 more in the capital, with cfficials claiming at least 1,170 people are known to have died in Nepal alone, making it the quake-prone Himalayan nation’s worst disaster in more than 80 years.
But the final toll from the 7.8 magnitude quake could be much higher, and dozens more people were reported killed in neighbouring India and China.
“The death toll has reached 1,170,” Nepal police spokesperson Kamal Singh Bam told AFP, adding that rescue efforts were still underway.
Emergency workers fanned out across the Himalayan nation to rescue those trapped under collapsed homes, buildings and other debris.
Offers of help poured in from governments around the world, with the United States announcing it was sending in a disaster response team.
“Deaths have been reported from all regions except the far west. All our security personnel have been deployed to rescue and assist those in need,” Bam told AFP.
Officials said 10 people were killed when an avalanche buried parts of Mount Everest’s base camp in Nepal where hundreds of mountaineers have gathered at the start of the annual climbing season.
“We don’t have the details yet, but 10 have been reported dead so far, including foreign climbers,” Gyanendra Kumar Shrestha, an official in Nepal’s tourism department, told AFP.
“We are trying to assess how many are injured. There might be over 1,000 people there right now, including foreign climbers and Nepalese supporting staff.”
AFP Nepal bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly, on an assignment to Everest together with a colleague, was among those caught up in the chaos.
“We are both ok… snowing here so no choppers coming,” she said in an SMS on approach to base camp. “I hurt my hand – got it bandaged and told to keep it upright to stop the bleeding.”
Experienced mountaineers said panic erupted at base camp which had been “severely damaged”, while one described the avalanche as “huge”.
“Huge disaster. Helped searched and rescued victims through huge debris area. Many dead. Much more badly injured. More to die if not heli asap,” tweeted Romanian climber Alex Gavan from base camp.
Google executive Dan Fredinburg was the only climber killed so far identified.
There is no immediate word on casualties.
The quake hit around noon Saturday and was also felt in neighboring India as well as in Pakistan.
Mohammad Shahab, a resident from Lahore, Pakistan, says he was sitting in his office when the earthquake rocked the city.
He says the tremors continued for a while but now the situation is normal in the city.
The sustained quake also was felt in India’s capital of New Delhi.
Update at 1300hrs
A 15-year-old girl was killed in northern India after the earthquake brought down the wall of her home in a village near the border with Nepal. Another girl was killed by a falling statue in a town outside Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, according to Nepal’s state radio.