Desperate Nepalis flee aftershocks in Kathmandu as death toll tops 6,000 * updates
Thousands forced to shelter in ‘tent cities’ as international aid slowed by aftershocks two days after quake
Amy Nip and Agencies in Kathmandu
People gather near a collapsed house after a major earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal yesterday. An earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude struck west of Kathmandu, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring hundreds. – Reuters pic, April 26, 2015.
A man stuck in the rubble of a building destroyed by the quake, the most powerful to hit Nepal in more than eight decades. Photo: EPA
A powerful earthquake struck Nepal and sent tremors through northern India yesterday, killing more than 1,800 people, toppling a 19th-century tower in the capital Kathmandu and touching off a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.
There were reports of devastation in outlying, isolated mountainous areas after the midday magnitude-7.9 quake, Nepal’s worst in 81 years, centred 80km east of the second city, Pokhara.
A collapse in communications hampered relief efforts, raising fears of a humanitarian disaster across the impoverished Himalayan nation of 28 million.
Nepal’s Home Ministry said the death toll had reached at least 1,805 in Nepal alone, more than half of them in the Kathmandu Valley. A further 36 fatalities were reported in northern India and four in Bangladesh. At least 4,700 people have been injured.
CCTV reported that at least 14 Chinese nationals had been killed, including 12 in Tibet and two construction workers in Pokhara. Nyalam and Gyirong were the counties most affected in Tibet, with buildings damaged and telecommunications cut off.
A tourism official said at least 10 people died when an avalanche unleashed by the earthquake swept through the Everest base camp, where more than 1,000 climbers had gathered at the start of the climbing season.
At least two Hongkongers were on Mount Everest at the time and both were understood to be safe and unhurt.
Among the Kathmandu landmarks destroyed was the 60-metre-high Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal, with a viewing balcony that had been open to visitors for the past 10 years.
A jagged stump just 10 metres high was all that was left of the lighthouse-like structure. As bodies were extracted from the ruins, a policeman said up to 200 people were trapped inside.
“The old temples, houses and all have been destroyed,” Sanket Lamichhane, who works for an advertising company, said from Kathmandu. “Everybody is out on the road now, nobody is inside the houses.”
At the main hospital in Kathmandu, volunteers formed human chains to clear the way for ambulances to bring in the injured.
Around 300,000 foreign tourists were estimated to be in various parts of Nepal for the spring trekking and climbing season in the Himalayas, and officials were overwhelmed by calls from concerned friends and relatives.
Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said two Hong Kong tour groups were in Nepal, one with Miramir Travel and another with Hong Thai Travel.
“Both groups were at Kathmandu airport waiting for flights back to Hong Kong,” he said. “There were a total of 30 people. They were prepared to leave today [yesterday].” Another tour that was scheduled to leave Hong Kong last night was cancelled.
Watch: At least 1,800 killed as 7.9 magnitude quake strikes Nepal
Tremors lasting up to a minute were felt as far away as New Delhi and other cities in northern India.
As an overwhelmed government appealed for foreign help, India was first to respond by sending in military aircraft with medical equipment and relief teams.
The United States was also sending a disaster response team to Nepal and had authorised an initial US$1 million to address immediate needs, the US Agency for International Development said.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Hundreds killed as quake rocks Nepal
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 April, 2015, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 April, 2015, 10:58am
In the garment manufacturing hub of Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, at least 50 workers were injured after the quake set off a stampede in a garment factory, according to the private Jamuna television.
The area has a history of earthquakes, with a 6.8 magnitude quake that hit eastern Nepal in August 1988 killing 721 people.
A magnitude 8.1 quake killed 10,700 people in Nepal and eastern India in 1934.