A powerful earthquake flattened houses and buildings in Nepal today, killing nearly 900 people as the worst temblor in 80 years destroyed the iconic Dharhara tower and renowned Darbar Square in the heart of the capital.
The quake measuring 7.9 on Richter scale, which was followed by 16 aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater, killed 876 people including over 250 in Kathmandu and left several thousands injured and hundreds missing across the country.
According to Nepalese Home Ministry figures, 150 people lost lives in neighbouring Bhaktapur, 67 in Lalitpur and 37 in Dhading district. Besides, 20 people were killed in the country’s eastern region, 33 in western region and rest in other parts of the Himalayan nation.
The earthquake around 11:56 am with epicentre at Lamjung, around 80 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu, had its impact in several cities in Bihar, West Bengal and UP and tremors were felt across vast stretches of east and northeast India.
It was also felt in Southern and Western parts of India, China, Bhutan and as far as Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Miraculously the famous 5th century Pashupatinath temple here was undamaged, while a number of old temples were razed.
Several buildings, most of them old, in the densely- populated Kathmandu Valley collapsed, killing hundreds.
At least 180 bodies have been retrieved from the debris of two-century old nine-storey landmark Dharhara tower in the centre of the capital.
Kathmandu’s Darbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was completely damaged in the quake which was the worst to hit Nepal and surrounding regions after the earthquake of 8.4 magnitude which occurred along the Nepal-Bihar border in 1934.
Video footages showed a number of buildings having caved in or developing huge cracks. Many of the city roads have suffered wide craters in the impact, affecting movement of vehicles and rescue operations.
Army, police and emergency workers were pressed into service for rescue of those trapped and rushing injured survivors to hospitals. Many of the injured could be seen suffering bleeding injuries covered in dust from the debris.
Indian Embassy spokesperson Abhay Kumar said some walls have collapsed in the impact of the earthquake and the embassy has set up two helplines +977 98511 07021, +977 98511 35141.
Fifty doctors have arrived from India to provide emergency services.
The daughter of a local employee in the Indian embassy died and his wife suffered serious injuries when a house in the mission complex in Kathmandu collapsed during the quake.
Nearly 125 people from Maharashtra and Telangana are stranded in Nepal after the earthquake.
Around 80 people from Nashik had gone to Nepal for pilgrimage while 15-20 people were on a trekking expedition.
25 tourists from Hyderabad, who are in Kathmandu, are safe.
“Now, all of us are safe in an open ground, close to the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu,” Gowrishankar, who took the tourists, said.