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Over 1,000 Dead in Nepal Quake         04/25 14:03

   Tens of thousands of people prepared to spend the night in the open under a 
chilly and thundery sky after a powerful earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday, 
killing more than 1,180 people, collapsing modern houses and centuries-old 
temples, and triggering a landslide on the slopes of Mount Everest. Officials 
said the death toll will rise as more reports from far-flung areas come in.

   KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Tens of thousands of people prepared to spend the 
night in the open under a chilly and thundery sky after a powerful earthquake 
shook Nepal on Saturday, killing more than 1,180 people, collapsing modern 
houses and centuries-old temples, and triggering a landslide on the slopes of 
Mount Everest. Officials said the death toll will rise as more reports from 
far-flung areas come in.

   The magnitude 7.8 earthquake, which originated outside the capital 
Kathmandu, was the worst tremor to hit the poor South Asian nation in over 80 
years. It was so powerful that it was felt all across the northern part of 
neighboring India, Bangladesh, Tibet and Pakistan where a total of 50 people 
died. The death toll in Nepal was 1,130, but it is almost certain to rise, said 
deputy Inspector General of Police Komal Singh Bam.

   More than two dozen aftershocks jolted the area after the first quake, which 
struck just before noon. At the time, Shrish Vaidya, who runs an advertising 
agency, was in his two-story house outside the capital Kathmandu with his 
arents.

   "It is hard to describe. The house was shaking like crazy. We ran out and it 
seemed like the road was heaving up and down," Vaidya, 46, told The Associated 
Press. "I don't remember anything like this before. Even my parents can't 
remember anything this bad."

   All across the country, residents ran out of homes and buildings in panic. 
Walls tumbled, trees swayed, power lines came crashing down and large cracks 
opened up on streets and walls. And clouds of dust began to swirl all around.

   Once the first shaking stopped, Vaidya thought the family could return 
indoors by the evening. But the jolts kept coming, and they felt safer 
outdoors.  

   "It's cold and windy so we are all sitting in the car listening to the news 
on FM radio," he said. "The experts are saying it's still not safe to go back 
inside. No one can predict how big the next aftershock will be."

   So the family and their three domestic helpers ate dinner in the compound 
with the headlights of their car providing the light.Vaidya's wife and 
10-year-old son are on holiday in the U.S. for which he was grateful.

   In his largely affluent neighborhood of low-rise, sturdy homes in suburban 
Kathmandu the damage was relatively low. In other parts of the city where the 
buildings are older and poorly built people have not been as lucky.

   There are forecasts of rain and thunder showers later Saturday and on Sunday 
and the temperatures are in the mid-50s (14 Celsius), cold enough to make 
camping outside uncomfortable.

   Thousands of people were spending the night at Tudikhel, a vast open ground 
in the middle of Kathmandu, just next to the old city that is lined with old 
buildings and narrow lanes. Now it is in ruins.

   People lay on plastic sheets or cardboard boxes, wrapped in blankets. 
Mothers kept their children warm; some lit fire with whatever wood they could 
find. Most were eating instant noodles and cookies.

   Deepak Rauniar, a shop worker who was there with his friends, said: "We are 
too scared to go back to our apartment. It is surrounded closely by houses, 
most of them old. The houses could collapse while we are still sleeping."

   Within hours of the quake, hospitals had filled up with hundreds of injured 
people. With organized relief and rescue largely absent, many of them were 
brought to hospitals by friends and relatives in motorized rickshaws, flatbed 
trucks and cars. It was also residents themselves who used bare hands, crowbars 
and other tools to dig through rubble and rescue survivors.

   Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who was attending a summit in Jakarta, tried 
to rush back home but made it as far as Bangkok where his connecting flight to 
Kathmandu was canceled because the capital's international airport was shut 
down.

   While the extent of the damage and the scale of the disaster are yet to be 
ascertained, the quake will likely put a huge strain on the resources of this 
poor country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world, and its 
rich Hindu culture. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, is 
heavily reliant on tourism, principally trekking and Himalayan mountain 
climbing.

   A mountaineering guide, Ang Tshering, said an avalanche swept the face of 
Mt. Everest after the earthquake, and government officials said at least 10 
climbers were killed and 30 injured. Their nationalities were not immediately 
known.

   Carsten Lillelund Pedersen, a Dane who is climbing the Everest with a 
Belgian, Jelle Veyt, said on his Facebook page that they were at Khumbu Icefall 
, a rugged area of collapsed ice and snow close to base camp at altitude 5,000 
meters (16,500 feet), when the earthquake hit.

   "Right now, it is pretty chaotic and we try to help those injured," Pedersen 
wrote in an email to Danish news agency Ritzau.

   Norwegian climber Teodor Glomnes Johansen told a newspaper in Norway that 
people at base camp were working on saving lives.

   "All those who are unharmed organize help with the rescue efforts. Men, 
women and Sherpas are working side by side. The job right now is to assist the 
doctors in the camp here," Glomnes Johansen told Norway's VG newspaper.

   The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.8. It said 
the quake hit at 11:56 a.m. local time (0611 GMT) at Lamjung, about 80 
kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu. Its depth was only 11 kilometers 
(7 miles), the largest shallow quake since the 8.2 temblor off the coast of 
Chile on April 1, 2014.

   The shallower the quake the more destructive power it carries.

   A magnitude 7 quake is capable of widespread and heavy damage while an 8 
magnitude quake can cause tremendous damage. This means Saturday's quake --- 
with the same magnitude as the one that hit San Francisco in 1906 --- was about 
16 times more powerful than the 7.0 quake that devastated Haiti in 2010.

   The quake occurred at the boundary between the two pieces, or plates, of 
Earth's crust, one of which supports India to the south and the other Eurasia 
to the north. The Indian plate is moving at 45 millimeters (1.7 inches) a year 
under the Eurasian plate, and this results in earthquakes once every 500 year 
on an average, said

   Marin Clark, a geophysicist at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

   So the quake was "definitely not a surprise," she said. Over millions of 
years, such quakes have led to the uplift of the Himalayas.

   The power of the tremors brought down several buildings in the center of the 
capital, the ancient Old Kathmandu, including centuries-old temples and towers.

   Among them was the nine-story Dharahara Tower, one of Kathmandu's landmarks 
built by Nepal's royal rulers as a watchtower in the 1800s and a 
UNESCO-recognized historical monument. It was reduced to rubble and there were 
reports of people trapped underneath.

   Hundreds of people buy tickets on weekends to go up to the viewing platform 
on the eighth story, but it was not clear how many were up there when the tower 
collapsed. Video footage showed people digging through the rubble of the tower, 
looking for survivors.

   Nepal suffered its worst recorded earthquake in 1934, which measured 8.0 and 
all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.


(KA)


 
 
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