A major earthquake, measuring a 7.9 magnitude, has killed at least 449 people in Nepal, and neighbouring northern India, with the death toll expected to rise further.
A powerful, shallow earthquake, measuring a magnitude of 7.9, has hit the mountainous Asian nation of Nepal. At least 449 people are currently believed to have been killed, and hundreds of others injured, by the quake, with the figures expected to rise.
The earthquake is the strongest to hit the country in 81 years, which also caused damage in neighboring Indian states and Bangladesh and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain.
A shallow quake is usually more dangerous because the amount of energy released is focused over a smaller area.
The US Geological Survey said the quake, initially measured at 7.7 but upgraded to 7.9 magnitude, struck 80 km east of Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal. It was only 2 km deep.
A spokesperson for the Nepal police stated that the current death toll stood at 449, according to an initial estimate. Most of the deaths came from the Kathmandu Valley. There was little information available, or coming from, from the outlying areas of the mountainous country. Helicopters had been sent to circle overhead, to assess the damage.
“Hundreds of people are feared dead and there are reports of widespread damage to property. The devastation is not confined to some areas of Nepal. Almost the entire country has been hit,” said Krishna Prasad Dhakal, deputy chief of mission at Nepal’s embassy in New Delhi.
An avalanche, believed to have been caused by the shallow quake, has buried part of the Nepal Everest base camp, killing eight people, the Nepal tourism board has announced.
Elsewhere, 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.
The Dharara Tower, built in 1832, collapsed in the Nepali capital Kathmandu following a severe earthquake on Saturday and at least one body was removed as police cordoned off the area, a Reuters witness said. It was a historic landmark that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor.
One body was removed from the tower and a second lay further up the road, the witness said. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the multi-storey tower when it collapsed.
Casualties have also been reported in Bangladesh.