New Delhi/ Kathmandu | Atleast 700 people were killed in Nepal and 24 in various parts of India as a powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked the two South Asian countries, resulting in a massive loss of life and property.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the Nepal Embassy in New Delhi Krishna Prasad Dhakal said the death toll in his country could cross the 500-mark. Most of the fatalities have been reported from the Kathmandu valley though there is little information pouring in from outlying areas of the region.
In India, 36 people died in collapsed buildings, six in Uttar Pradesh, 16 in Bihar and at least two in West Bengal.
The intensity was severest in Nepal where the epicenter was reported while its intensity was a bit low in India but areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, bordering Nepal, were also hit badly.
With the tremblor leaving a trail of death and destruction in the Himalayan nation, local TV channels were showing heaps of bodies even as the authorities launched a massive rescue and relief operation. Chaotic scenes were witnessed outside hospitals where wailing relatives were seen searching their kith and kin.
Reports quoting Nepal police said at least 450 were feared dead and fifty bodies can be counted in a local hospital in Kathmandu. Every minute the toll is rising as rescuers with bare hands were trying to rescue trapped persons. No official figure of the death toll is available so far, but channels and various sources are compiling figures and say at least 150 feared dead besides scores of others were left injured. Many of the injured reported to hospitals with broken limbs and bleeding wounds.
Reports received from Kathmandu said casualty figures may be many times higher as several buildings had flattened with people feared buried under the debris. Hospitals were flooded with injured. Access to many lanes and by-lanes in the capital city of Kathmandu has been blocked due to huge mound of debris.
Relief and rescue operations have been launched to save people trapped in collapsed buildings and historical monuments and temples. Doctors have pitched camps on streets of Kathmandu to give first aid to the injured.
In Nepals Lamjung, the epicentre of the quake, many buildings have been flattened. There are reports of cracks developing at the Kathmandu airport. Flights have been diverted to India.
Eyewitnesses said Dharahara Tower/Bhimsen Tower, a 19th century nine-storey tall tower in Kathmandu, has collapsed. About 400 people are believed to be trapped.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who is currently in Kathmandu, said he heard a major explosion like sound soon after the quake and at least five aftershocks have been felt .
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting to review the situation arising from the quake in India and how New Delhi could assist Nepal in its hour of crisis. He also spoke to Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who is in transit in Bangkok on his way to Kathmandu.
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