32 killed in Nepal earthquake

Anil Giri   |  Kathmandu


 At least 32 people were killed and over 850 were injured when a massive earthquake shook Nepal on Tuesday causing panic in a country which was recovering from the devastating April 25 temblor.

Cracked buildings collapsed in a heap of debris and landslides cut off roads as an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale hit Nepal, with its epicentre not far from Mount Everest -- the world's highest peak at 8,848 metres.

Initial reports said 19 people were killed in Dolakha, four in Sindhupalchok district and three in Kathmandu. Six more were reported killed, officials said but their details were not immediately available.

Terrified people ran out of homes and offices to open space and parks as the buildings began to shake due to the tremors.

"It was frightening," said an eyewitness who clutched her daughter. "It felt worse than last time," she added

Six strong aftershocks followed in quick succession. Four of the aftershocks had their epicentre at Kodari on the Nepal-China border, north-east of Kathmandu, and the strongest aftershock measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.

Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said the government has deployed search, relief and rescue teams in the affected areas.

His Indian counterpart Narendra Modi assured that he has directed authorities to be on alert for rescue and relief operations.

A tweet from the Indian prime minister's office said: "PM took stock of the situation following the fresh major earthquake felt in Nepal and parts of India, at a high-level meeting."

India Meteorological Department chief L.S. Rathore said the aftershocks could well continue for a few more weeks and months.

The tremors were felt in India, particularly in capital Delhi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Amritsar, Kolkata and the northeastern city of Guwahati. Buildings also shook in faraway Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

In Kathmandu, an eyewitness said that he saw a building collapse.

Another witness told IANS that he saw debris falling on a taxi packed with people. The fate of the people in the taxi was not immediately known.

Onlookers were left dazed and distraught on seeing the buildings collapse with a roar in a replay of the April 25 quake horror.

There was no electricity in Kathmandu after the tremors. Internet connectivity too snapped.

People desperate for news tried to get in touch through their mobile phones, but that too did not work. The mobile network was jammed.

People -- fearing a repeat of the April 25 earthquake aftermath which saw widespread scarcity of essential items -- made a beeline for shops to stock on water and other essential commodities here.

Harried shopkeepers were seen trying to manage the surging crowds at their shops.

Kathmandu airport was closed temporarily as the ATC staff hurried out of the tower. The airport -- Nepal's only international airport -- was shortly thereafter reopened for normal traffic. - IANS