NEPAL: A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck west of the ancient Nepali capital of Kathmandu today causing buildings to collapse, injuring many and leaving a pall of dust over the city, witnesses said.
The initial unconfirmed death toll was at least four but could be expected to rise significantly as Kathmandu’s decrepit buildings, crisscrossed by narrow alleys, are home to large families. A 1934 quake of magnitude 8.3 in the impoverished Himalayan nation killed over 8,500 people.
At the main hospital in Kathmandu, people with broken limbs and arms were being rushed in for treatment. It was unclear how many people were injured.
A girl died after a statue fell on her in a park in Kathmandu, a witness said, while another died in India when her house collapsed.
A Reuters reporter in Kathmandu said he had seen some buildings collapse and walls of several houses reduced to rubble. “Everyone is out in the streets, people are rushing to the hospital,” the reporter said.
The city is home to ancient, wooden Hindu temples. Photographs posted online showed buildings left in rubble, large cracks along roads and residents sitting in the street holding babies.
Kathmandu’s historic Dharara Tower, built in 1832, collapsed, trapping at least 50 people, Nepal media reported. It 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, a Reuters witness said.
Mountaineer Alex Gavan tweeted from Mount Pumori, about 8km west of Mount Everest, that the quake had caused an avalanche on Everest.
“Everest base camp huge earthquake, then huge avalanche from Pumori. Running for life from my tent. Unhurt. Many, many people up the mountain,” tweeted Mr Gavan.
Tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi and other northern cities in India, with reports of tremors lasting almost one minute.
The US Geological Survey said the quake, initially measured at 7.7 but upgraded to 7.9 magnitude, struck 80km east of Pokhara. It was only 2km deep.
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