An earthquake with magnitude 7.5 occurred near Pokhara, Nepal at 06:11:25.80 UTC on Apr 25, 2015. More than 700 people are known to have died in this powerful earthquake 467 of them in Kathmandu alone. Many more feared trapped under rubble, officials say. The impact was so severe that the nine storey ancient Dharhara tower which is one of the most prominent buildings to have collapsed and been reduced to just its base in the heart of Kathmandu’s historic old city was one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. The white nine-storey tower was once the place where kings were once crowned. It featured a bronze minaret and a spiral staircase of over 200 steps, leading to a small shrine to the Hindu god Shiva.
Rescue workers were seen dragging bodies from the rubble on the TV footage which showed chaotic scenes at the site, as people desperately tried to dig through piles of bricks and dust with their bare hands. Dinesh Acharya, a spokesman for Kathmandu police, said rescue workers were frantically trying to “bring everyone out to safety”. “Our team is still deployed in Dharara to rescue people. However, we do not know how many are still trapped,” he told the media “We need support from the various international agencies which are more knowledgeable and equipped to handle the kind of emergency we face now,” said Information Minister Minendra Rijal.
Rescuers are digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings in the capital trying to reach survivors. A number of historic buildings have been destroyed. After the earthquake struck, frightened residents came out into the streets. Mobile phones and other communications have been disrupted.
World’s strongest earthquakes
- Chile, 1960, a5 magnitude quake triggers a tsunami. At least 1,700 people are killed
- Alaska, 1964, 131 people are killed in a2 earthquake
- Indonesia, 2004, the devastating1 earthquake and ensuing tsunami kills more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries
- Japan, 2011, a0 quake triggers a tsunami, killing more than 18,000 people
- Russia, 1952, another0 earthquake caused damage but no reported casualties
There are also reports of damage to the airport in the capital, which could potentially hamper relief operations. “It was very scary. The earth was moving… I am waiting for treatment but the [hospital] staff are overwhelmed,” a labourer who injured his arm in a collapsing wall told Media. Patrick Adams, a photo journalist in Kathmandu, said he saw “truckloads” of bodies coming into the hospital. With little known about the extent of the damage around the earthquake’s epicentre, there are fears the death toll could rise.
At least 22 people have been killed in India, officials say, with deaths also reported in Bangladesh. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met his ministers to review the situation. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has pledged help for the Nepalese authorities. It is the worst earthquake to strike Nepal since one in 1934 which all but destroyed Kathmandu.
The Earthquake Chronology
- At least 400 people are killed in Nepal, according to police and government officials cited by different agencies.
- In India, 14 people have died in Bihar; 40 children were injured when a part of their school collapsed in West Bengal’s Malda.
- Television footage showed that large numbers of offices and homes had collapsed in Kathmandu, while roads had been split in two by the force of the impact.
- Tremors were felt in Delhi, nearly 1,100 km away. Some people were seen rushing out of their homes and offices in cities like Kolkata and Jaipur.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi called an emergency meeting to discuss the impact of the earthquake. He also phoned his counterpart Sushil Koirala to pledge India’s immediate assistance to Nepal.
- The Prime Minister directed evacuation of tourists and immediate dispatch of relief and rescue teams to Nepal, as well as to affected areas in India.
- “The damage potential of any earthquake above seven magnitude is high. The duration of the earthquake tremors was different at different places. It was around 50-55 seconds long in Delhi,” said Laxman Singh Rathore, Director-General of the Indian Meteorological Department.
- The quake was epicentred 81 kilometres northwest of Kathmandu, with walls crumbling and families racing outside of their homes. Initially measured at 7.5 magnitude, the quake was later adjusted to 7.9, with a depth of 15 kilometres. A shallow earthquake causes more damage because the amount of energy released is focused over a smaller area.
- A historic tower built in the 19th century collapsed in Kathmandu following a severe earthquake on Saturday morning. The Dharara Tower had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor.
- A 6.9-magnitude quake hit Sikkim northeastern India in 2011, rocking neighboring Nepal and killing 110 people.
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