Magnitude-7.9 quake hits Nepal, causing big damage, injuries
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 25, 2015
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A powerful, 7.9-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, collapsing houses, leveling centuries-old temples and cutting open roads in the worst tremor in the Himalayan nation in over 80 years.
Dozens of people with injuries were being brought to the main hospital in central Kathmandu. There was no immediate estimate on fatalities. China’s state broadcaster said one Chinese tourist was killed in Nepal at the Nepal-China border.
The earthquake also shook several cities across northern India, and was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan. The epicenter was 80 kilometers (49 mile) northwest of Kathmandu.
Several buildings collapsed in the center of the capital, the ancient Old Kathmandu, including centuries-old temples and towers, said resident Prachanda Sual. Among them was the Dharahara Tower, one of Kathmandu’s landmarks built by Nepal’s royal rulers in the 1800s and a UNESCO-recognized historical monument. It was reduced to rubble and there were reports of people trapped underneath.
Old Kathmandu city is a warren of tightly packed, narrow lanes with poorly constructed homes piled on top of each other.
Sual said he saw people running through the streets in panic. Ambulance sirens blared and government helicopters hovered overhead.
National radio warned people to stay outdoors and maintain calm because more aftershocks were feared. A 6.6-magnitude aftershock hit about an hour after the initial quake.
Dozens of people were gathered in the parking lot of Kathmandu’s Norvic International Hospital, where thin mattresses had been spread on the ground for patients rushed outside, some patients wearing hospital pajamas, while doctors and nurses were treating people. A woman with a bandage on her head sat in a set of chairs pulled from the hospital waiting room.
Doctors and nurses had hooked up some patients to IV drops in the parking lot, or were giving people oxygen.
Nepal’s Information Minister Minendra Rijal told India’s NDTV station that there are reports of damage in and around Kathmandu but no immediate word on casualties. He said rescue teams were on the scene.
The Kathmandu Valley is densely populated with nearly 2.5 million people, and the quality of buildings is often poor.
An Associated Press reporter in Kathmandu said a wall in his compound collapsed and there was damage to nearby buildings.
The U.S. Geological Survey revised the magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 and said the quake hit at 11:56 a.m. local time (0611 GMT) at Lamjung a shallow depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles). An earthquake’s magnitude increases by 10 times with each increase in the number. A magnitude 7 quake is capable of widespread and heavy damage while an 8 magnitude quake can cause tremendous damage.
Mohammad Shahab, a resident from Lahore, Pakistan, said he was sitting in his office when the earthquake rocked the city near the border with India.
He said the tremors continued for a while but now the situation was normal.
The sustained quake also was felt in India’s capital of New Delhi. AP reporters in Indian cities of Lucknow in the north and Patna in the east also reported strong tremors.
Nepal suffered its worst recorded earthquake in 1934, which measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.