Aftershocks in Nepal cause more terror

2015-04-26 13:18
Nepalese residents walk past a road damaged by the earthquake and renewed aftershocks that are keeping everyone on edge. (Prakash Singh, AFP)

Nepalese residents walk past a road damaged by the earthquake and renewed aftershocks that are keeping everyone on edge. (Prakash Singh, AFP)

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Kathmandu - Powerful aftershocks rocked Nepal on Sunday, panicking survivors of a quake that killed more than 2 200 and triggering fresh avalanches at the Everest base camp, as rescuers dug through rubble in the devastated capital.

Terrified residents, many forced to camp out in the capital after Saturday's quake reduced buildings to rubble, were jolted by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock that compounded the worst disaster to hit the impoverished Himalayan nation in more than 80 years.

At overstretched hospitals, where medics were also treating patients in hastily erected tents, staff were forced to flee from buildings for fear of further collapses.

New season

"Electricity has been cut off, communication systems are congested and hospitals are crowded and are running out of room for storing dead bodies," said Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke.

Climbers reported that the aftershock caused more avalanches at Mount Everest, just after helicopters airlifted to safety those injured when a wall of snow hit base camp on Saturday, killing at least 17 people.

The deadliest disaster in Everest's history comes almost exactly a year after an avalanche killed 16 Sherpa guides, forcing the season to be cancelled, and as around 800 mountaineers were gathered at the start of the new season.

AFP's Nepal bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly, who was on assignment at base camp, reported that six helicopters had managed to reach the mountain on Sunday after the weather improved overnight.

Offers of help poured in from around the world, with the United States and the European Union announcing they were sending in disaster response teams.

India flew out its stranded citizens in military planes while a 62-strong Chinese rescue team arrived with sniffer dogs.

Sifting through rubble

National police spokesperson Kamal Singh Bam said the number known to have died in Nepal had risen to 2 152 while 4 629 people had been injured.

Officials in India said the toll there now stood at 57, while Chinese state media said 17 people had been killed in the Tibet region.

"We have deployed all our resources for search and rescues," said Bam.

"Helicopters have been sent to remote areas. We are sifting through the rubble where buildings have collapsed to see if we can find anyone."

The Red Cross said it was concerned about the fate of villages near the epicentre of the quake northwest of Kathmandu.

The country's cellphone network was working only sporadically, while large parts of the capital were without electricity.

Open ground

Correspondents in Kathmandu reported that tremors were felt throughout the night, including one strong aftershock at dawn before the 6.7-magnitude follow-up quake that struck in the afternoon.

"It has been a sleepless night, how can we sleep? It has been shaking all night. We are just praying that this will end and we can return home," said Nina Shrestha, a 34-year-old banker who spent the night with hundreds of people on open ground in the capital's Tudhikhel district.

The historic nine-storey Dharahara tower, a major tourist attraction, was among the buildings brought down in Kathmandu Saturday, with at least a dozen bodies recovered from the ruins of the 19th-century structure.

As rescuers sifted through the huge mounds of rubble in the capital, hospitals were overwhelmed with victims who suffered multiple fractures and trauma.

Read more on:    nepal  |  earthquakes  |  nepal earthquake  |  natural disasters

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