Strong Nepal earthquake kills 688

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patan-kathmanduApril, 25: Hundreds of PEOPLE have been killed after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck 80km east of Pokhara in Nepal about half way between the town and the capital Kathmandu.

Police said that 688 people were killed in the powerful quake that shook the region on Saturday.

Nepal’s INFORMATION Minister Minendra Rijal told India’s NDTV station that there are reports of damage in and around Kathmandu. He said rescue teams were responding.

Photos posted on Twitter showed buildings left in rubble, large cracks along roads and worried residents on the streets.

The earthquake destroyed many historical landmarks, including the UNESCO World Heritage temples at Basantapur Durbar Square and the Dharara tower, BOTH in central Kathmandu.

It has been reported that around 250 people may have been in the Dharara tower when it collapsed. At least 50 people are believed to be trapped UNDER an ancient tower in Kathmandu which collapsed in the quake.

Emergency workers and army and police personnel, with the help of bystanders, continued to work tirelessly early Saturday afternoon to clear the rubble from these sites and to rescue any survivors from under the debris, although most of the BODIES that are being pulled out are lifeless.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are staying outdoors and have found refuge in Kathmandu’s OPEN spaces, in fear that subsequent aftershocks may cause further damage.

The epicentre was 80km northwest of Kathmandu, he said. The Kathmandu Valley is densely populated with nearly 2.5 million, with the quality of buildings often poor.

The Associated Press news agency cited a senior guide as saying that an avalanche swept a mountain near the Everest base camp. A tourism official later said that at least eight were killed in the incident.

Al Jazeera’s Subina Shrestha, reporting from Kathmandu, confirmed the reports of damage to buildings there. Some ancient temples were also reportedly damaged.

The US Geological Survey said the quake hit at 11:56am local time (06:11 GMT). It initially reported a magnitude 7.7 before revising the calculation to 7.5 and later upgraded to 7.9.

The USGS initally reported the epicentre to BE 11km deep but later revised it to 2km.

Tremors were felt in a number of India’s northern CITIES, witnesses said. Al Jazeera’s reporters in New Delhi said the tremors were also felt across the Indian capital.

Al Jazeera’s Faiz Jamil said that the first tremor in New Delhi lasted for 20 SECONDS and a second one followed shortly after.

Al Jazeera’s Maher Sattar in Dhaka, Bangladesh, also reported sustained tremors there.

Laxman Singh Rathore, director-general of the Indian Meteorological Department, said that the impact had been felt across LARGE swathes of northern India.

“The intensity was felt in entire north India. More intense shocks were felt in eastern UP (Uttar Pradesh) and Bihar, equally STRONG in sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim,” he said.

Rathore said that a second tremor of a 6.6 magnitude had been recorded around 20 minutes later and CENTRED around the same region.

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