A massive earthquake of 7.9 magnitude on the Richter scale and a series of aftershocks hit several parts of Nepal on Saturday morning, leaving over 1,500 people dead and many others injured. Roads and buildings, many of them historic landmarks such as the Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu, were destroyed.
The government said 1,500 bodies had been recovered. An equal number of people are said to be injured. The death toll is mounting and rescue operations have proved difficult given the mountainous terrain. A clearer estimate of casualties and damage could take days.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicentre was Lamjung district in western Nepal. The quake hit at 11.56 a.m. Nepal Standard Time (11.41 a.m. IST).
People took shelter in open spaces, fields, the palace venue and schools. Many foreign tourists are stranded at Thamel. The residents of the capital are out on the streets. The government has opened the gates of the Singha Durbar for people to take shelter.
Emergency meeting The Cabinet held an emergency meeting and declared an emergency in the quake-hit areas. The most affected districts. besides the three districts of the capital, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, are Kavre Gorkha, Nuwakot and Makwanpur in central Nepal and Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga and Bhojpur in the east. Some 40 of the 75 districts have been affected. Tremors through the afternoon lasted as long as 45 seconds. The last strong tremor occurred around 3.15 p.m. local time (3 p.m. IST).
The Dharahara Tower, in the heart of the capital and built in 1832, collapsed, trapping people. The Kalomochan temple at Thapathali was destroyed, as was the King Mahendra statue at Tripureshwar.
Massive earthquake in Nepal; over 1,500 killed
7.9 earthquake in Nepal; tremors felt across north India
A strong 7.9-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal's capital causing massive damage. Some tremors are reported to have lasted as much as 20 seconds.