Massive quake devastates Nepal, more than 700 killed

Rajat Kain

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A caved-in road at Kathmandu after the earthquake.

A very strong earthquake with its epicentre in Nepal shook its capital Kathmandu and almost entire North India Saturday morning. The earthquake measured at 7.9-magnitude on the Richter scale hit at Lamjung, 81 kilometres north-west of the Nepal capital Kathmandu little past 11:40 am.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the high magnitude quake lasted full one minute at 11:44 am IST.

Heavy casualties and major damages to property and buildings, including the residential ones, is reported in Nepal with more than 600 people killed, news agency PTI quoted Nepalese Home Ministry.

As many as thousands are reported to have been stuck under the debris, even as authorities are fighting hard to rescue as many people alive as possible. Several buildings fell down after one of the heaviest earthquake in recent times. A 19th century Dharahara tower in Kathmandu has collapsed trapping hundreds in its debris. Built in 19th century, Dharara Tower in Kathmandu is a popular tourist spot with its eighth floor balcony particularly popular among the tourist to have a skyline view of the capital city.

According to the city police, at least 200 people are trapped under the debris while many eyewitnesses spoke of the dead bodies being removed from the site.

Many roads in and around Kathmandu have caved in too. Hundreds are said to be stuck under the debris and damaged structures.

Kathmandu airport has now been close and all Nepal bound flights are diverted to India.

The rescue and relief work is going on at a full scale in Nepal. There are also reports of a massive avalanche at the Mount Everest base camp with many mountaineers are believed to be stuck there. According to the eyewitnesses who shared the information on social network, “the basecamp has been severely damaged” and one team of climbers are caught at camp 1. However, the number of people in the team is not yet clear.

Sharing concerns with the neighbour country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his Nepal counterpart Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and President Ram Baran Yadav. A team from India too may be sent to help Nepal in their rescue operations.

Given the magnitude of the earthquake, the rescue operations are believed to go one for some time.
Earlier, immediately after the tremors rocked the capital along with entire North India, he had tweeted, “News has come in about an Earthquake in Nepal. Several parts of India also experienced tremors. We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home & in Nepal.”

A control room has also been set up in Ministry of External Affairs to provide all help and information round the clock.

The numbers to the 24-hour Control Room are +91 11 2301 2113, +91 11 2301 4104 and +91 11 2301 7905.

The Indian Embassy in Nepal has also opened several helplines for queries regarding the Nepal Earthquake: +977-985-110-7021 +977-985-113-5141

Anticipating a larger role in the rescue and rehab in the neighbour nation, India has kept its transport aircraft and C17 Globemaster, C-130 Hercules and helicopters on standby.