April 2015 – NEPAL – A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake has struck Nepal less than 50 miles from the capital, Kathmandu, the U.S. Geological Survey said Saturday. More than 4438 people have been reported killed. The death toll could rise higher as more people are rescued from collapsed buildings. Witnesses said people were killed and injured, and historic buildings in Kathmandu had been brought down. CNN’s Manesh Shrestha, who was himself injured, said he saw five bodies at a hospital. People with severe injuries were being treated outside, with doctors administering CPR on at least one person, Shrestha said. “It’s quite chaotic,” he said. Avalanches were reported on Mount Everest.
The quake occurred at a depth of less than two miles, which is considered shallow, and potentially more damaging than quakes emanating from deeper down. The USGS previously rated the temblor at 7.5 magnitude but later upgraded the strength. The USGS reported aftershocks at strengths of 6.6 and 5.1. The shaking was felt by people who contacted the USGS as “severe” to “violent,” nearly the highest rating on the intensity scale. Tremors were felt as far as New Delhi, more than 200 miles away in neighboring India. An official said it was felt there at magnitude 5.0.
The shaking was rated as “strong” to “severe” on the USGS ShakeMap. CNN sister network CNN-IBN is reporting that buildings are down and roads are out. IBN reporter K. Dhiksit looked out his window in Kathmandu and saw the walls of many buildings down. As he watched, an aftershock rattled his street. He said he heard “big booming sounds,” as well. People ran out into the streets, he said. Photos of caved-in and toppled buildings appeared on social media. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet, “We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home & in Nepal.” Kanak Masni, a journalist in Kathmandu, told CNN by telephone that this appeared to be “the most massive earthquake to hit central Nepal since 1934.” –CNN
Avalanche on Mt. Everest: An avalanche swept the face of Mt. Everest after the massive earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday, a senior mountaineering guide, injuring at least 30 people. The avalanche apparently struck between the Khumbu Icefall, a rugged area of collapsed ice and snow, and the base camp where most climbing expeditions are, said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
Tshering said details were unclear because communication between the base camp and the rest of the Everest region was intermittent. Nepal’s Home Ministry said that the 30 people who were injured were at the base camp. –ABC News
Dangerous seismic region: Seismologists have long feared a big earthquake in western Nepal, where there is pent-up pressure between tectonic plates grinding up against one another. Though there have been a series of earthquakes in the region over the last century, none resulted in a full release of seismic energy, said Ganesh K. Bhattari, a Nepali expert on earthquakes now living in Denmark. Photographs posted on social media showed people digging in the debris of collapsed structures. Kashish Das Shrestha, a photographer, said people were trapped in the rubble and could be heard crying out as rescuers tried to make their way into buildings. “Everywhere there are people on the streets, people crying, people stuck in rubble, people trying to help,” Mr. Shrestha said. He described severe damage to parts of the palace complex in Vasanthapura Square, the site of palaces and temples that date to the 11th century. The old section of the city is a warren of narrow lanes and historic structures. “Oh my God, the entire Vasanthapura is in rubble,” Mr. Shrestha said.
Hospitals in Katmandu were reporting the arrival of patients with broken limbs. For hours after the earthquake, many residents sat in the road, afraid to go back indoors. Many said they would spend the night outside, despite the cold. The earthquake set off avalanches on Mount Everest, where several hundred trekkers were attempting an ascent, according to climbers there. Via Twitter, Alex Gavan, a hiker at base camp, described “huge earthquake then huge avalanche,” and “running for life from my tent.” Nima Namgyal Sherpa, a tour guide at base camp, described one avalanche as “huge” and said it had caused many injuries. “Many camps have been destroyed by the shake and wind from the avalanche,” Mr. Sherpa, the base camp manager for Asian Treks, wrote in a post on Facebook. “All the doctors here are doing our best to treat and save lives.” Two people died on Mount Everest after the earthquake, and eight more were badly injured, said Tulasi Prasad Gautam, an official in the state tourism department.
Tremors from the quake were felt across northern India, rattling bookcases and light fixtures as far away as Delhi. Electricity was switched off for safety reasons in the state of Bihar, where three deaths were reported in one district, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, India’s minister of skill development, told reporters in New Delhi. Two other deaths were reported in a second nearby district. Historically, the region has been the site of the largest earthquakes in the Himalayas. A 2005 earthquake in Kashmir and a 1905 earthquake in Kangra resulted in a death toll of more than 100,000 people, according to the United States Geological Survey. –NY Times