KATHMANDU: A new earthquake and powerful aftershocks killed dozens of people and brought fresh terror to a traumatised Nepal on Tuesday as buildings already damaged in a monster quake last month came tumbling down.
Only weeks after the country’s deadliest quake in more than 80 years, terrified residents once again fled onto the streets while lawmakers had to scurry from parliament as the earth began shaking beneath their feet.
Officials in Nepal said at least 36 people were killed while 17 people also died across the border in northern India, most in the state of Bihar.
The 7.3-magnitude quake struck at 12:35 pm, some 76 kilometres (47 miles) east of Kathmandu, the US Geological Survey said, after a 7.8-magnitude quake on April 25 killed more than 8,000 people.
Tuesday’s quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, and officials said it caused buildings to collapse in Tibet in neighbouring China, killing at least one person there.
A second tremor of 6.3-magnitude struck Nepal around half an hour later, followed by yet more aftershocks, according to the USGS.
Nepalese television showed buildings including parliament swaying as the earth moved underneath, while footage also emerged of fresh landslides in rural areas.
“At an hour of a natural disaster like this, we have to face it with courage and patience,” Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said after an emergency meeting of his cabinet.
The Nepalese government has acknowledged that it was overwhelmed by the scale of the April 25 disaster which destroyed nearly 300,000 homes and left many more too dangerous to live in any more.
Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, a spokesman for Nepal’s home ministry, said 36 people were killed and 1,129 were injured.
The districts of Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk, two of the worst affected by the original quake last month, bore the brunt of the damage once more.
“Many houses have collapsed in Dolakha, many houses have collapsed and there is a chance that the number of dead from the district will go up,” said Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam.
A new earthquake and several powerful aftershocks hit devastated Nepal on Tuesday, killing at least 37 people and injuring at least 1,139, said the Nepal Home Ministry.
The 7.3-magnitude quake struck at 12:35 pm, some 76 kilometres east of Kathmandu, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, sending terrified residents running into the streets of the traumatised capital.
This is the first major quake felt in the region more than two weeks after a 7.8-magnitude quake which claimed the lives of over 8,000 people.
Tuesday’s quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, and officials said it caused buildings to collapse in Tibet in neighbouring China.
A second tremor of 6.3-magnitude struck around half an hour later, followed by yet more aftershocks, according to the USGS.
In neighbouring India, at least 16 people were confirmed dead after rooftops or walls collapsed onto them, according to India’s Home Ministry.
Chinese media reported one death in Tibet.
In Nepal, at least three people had been rescued in the capital, while another nine pulled to safety in the district of Dolkha. Rescue helicopters had been sent to mountain districts where landslides and collapsed buildings may have buried people, the government said.
Home Ministry official Laxmi Dhakal said the Sindhupalchowk and Dolkha districts were the worst hit.
Search parties fanned out to look for survivors in the wreckage of collapsed buildings in Sindhulpalchowk’s town of Chautara.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which has a number of teams on the ground in the wake of the April 25 quake, said four people were crushed to death when buildings collapsed in Chautara, east of Kathmandu.
The ground swayed for close to a minute from the first of Tuesday’s tremors, according to an AFP correspondent in Kathmandu.
“We felt it and suddenly there were huge crowds running up and down,” said resident Suresh Sharma, who was in a vegetable market at the time.
“It was very scary and very difficult to make my way out,” said the 63-year-old.
“The last time we had the big quake I ran out of my house and barely escaped. This one felt just like that one. I can’t believe it’s happening again.”
Read more: Nepal: Experiencing the aftermath
Shaking went on and on
Rose Foley, working in Kathmandu for the UN’s children’s fund UNICEF, said staff dived under tables. “The shaking seemed to go on and on. We got out to safety as soon as possible. Sitting out in the open it felt like I was on a boat on rough seas as aftershocks hit,” she said by email.
Although the latest quake did not appear to be as severe as the April 25 one, residents were terrified that buildings that were already badly damaged could come crashing down.
“I was thinking of moving to a rented room, but today was so scary I can’t risk my family’s life,” Dipak Koirala, who has been living under a tent since April 25, said by phone from central Ramechhap district.
“We will continue to stay in the tent but it’s wet here and the rain came into the tent, which we are sharing with 24 people. “Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, the main entry point for flights bringing in aid, was briefly closed again Tuesday as a precaution but reopened after a couple of hours.
Whole villages were destroyed in the April 25 quake while large parts of Kathmandu were destroyed, leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Relief teams from around the world are still working to provide water, food and medical assistance to Nepalis.
Patients wheeled out of hospital
On Tuesday at the main hospital in Kathmandu, patients hurt in last month’s quake were brought out in wheelchairs to avoid further injury.
People could be seen frantically calling their families as medical attendants rushed to set up tents in the car park.
The capital was filled with the sound of car horns as desperate residents rushed to get back home to check on loved ones.
Pramita Tamrakar, who had only just reopened her family’s furniture store, said she had rushed out onto the street after grabbing her eight-year-old son and 12 year-old daughter.
“I saw in the news the day before yesterday that the risk was lower, it wouldn’t happen again… and today we had a big one. I am very scared. My children are also very scared. “Nepalese police urged people to stay outside and avoid jamming the fragile cellphone network.
The quake was also felt some 1,000 kilometres away in the Indian capital where buildings shook and workers evacuated offices.
Other cities in northern India were also rocked, including Bihar where television footage showed goods toppled over in shop windows.
A Chinese official at the Tibet regional seismological bureau said there had been reports that houses damaged on April 25 had now collapsed.
While nearly all of those killed by the April 25 quake were in Nepal, around 100 victims also died in India and China.
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