Toll in devastating Nepal quake rises to 1,341: Police

PM directs relief goods to be dispatched to Kathmandu as soon as airport becomes functional; 4 planes ready to leave

Afp/web Desk/reuters April 25, 2015
Rescuers clear rubble in Kathmandu. PHOTO: AFP

NEPAL: The toll from the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal has risen to 1,341 people, a police spokesperson said on Saturday. The quake ripped through large parts of Nepal, and northern India, toppling office blocks and towers in Kathmandu and triggering a deadly avalanche that hit an Everest base camp.

Of the total, more than 630 were reported dead in the Kathmandu Valley and at least 300 more in the capital, with cfficials claiming at least 1,170 people are known to have died in Nepal alone, making it the quake-prone Himalayan nation's worst disaster in more than 80 years.

But the final toll from the 7.8 magnitude quake could be much higher, and dozens more people were reported killed in neighbouring India and China.

"The death toll has reached 1,170," Nepal police spokesperson Kamal Singh Bam told AFP, adding that rescue efforts were still underway.

Emergency workers fanned out across the Himalayan nation to rescue those trapped under collapsed homes, buildings and other debris.

Offers of help poured in from governments around the world, with the United States announcing it was sending in a disaster response team.

"Deaths have been reported from all regions except the far west. All our security personnel have been deployed to rescue and assist those in need," Bam told AFP.

Officials said 10 people were killed when an avalanche buried parts of Mount Everest's base camp in Nepal where hundreds of mountaineers have gathered at the start of the annual climbing season.

"We don't have the details yet, but 10 have been reported dead so far, including foreign climbers," Gyanendra Kumar Shrestha, an official in Nepal's tourism department, told AFP.

"We are trying to assess how many are injured. There might be over 1,000 people there right now, including foreign climbers and Nepalese supporting staff."

AFP Nepal bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly, on an assignment to Everest together with a colleague, was among those caught up in the chaos.

"We are both ok... snowing here so no choppers coming," she said in an SMS on approach to base camp. "I hurt my hand - got it bandaged and told to keep it upright to stop the bleeding."

Experienced mountaineers said panic erupted at base camp which had been "severely damaged", while one described the avalanche as "huge".

"Huge disaster. Helped searched and rescued victims through huge debris area. Many dead. Much more badly injured. More to die if not heli asap," tweeted Romanian climber Alex Gavan from base camp.

Google executive Dan Fredinburg was the only climber killed so far identified.

Lawrence You, director of privacy at Google, said Fredinburg was with three other Google employees, who all survived. He added that was contributing $1 million to response efforts.

But the worst damage was in Kathmandu, where the historic nine-storey Dharahara tower, a major tourist attraction, was among buildings brought down.

The Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu. PHOTO: calflier001 (L)/ AFP (R)


On the left is an image of the Durbar square from August 2010. On the right is an image of the square from April 25, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

At least a dozen bodies were taken away from the ruins of the 19th-century tower, according to an AFP photographer who saw similar scenes of multiple casualties throughout the city.

"It was difficult to breath, but I slowly moved the debris. Someone then pulled me out. I don't know where my friends are," Dharmu Subedi, 36, who was standing outside the tower when it collapsed, said from a hospital bed.

At least 42 people were known to have died in India, including 30 in the eastern state of Bihar, while buildings in the capital New Delhi had to be evacuated.

The United States Geological Survey said the shallow quake struck 77 kilometres (48 miles) northwest of Kathmandu at 0611 GMT, with walls crumbling and families racing outside their homes.

The quake tore through the middle of highways in the capital and also caused damage to the country's only international airport which was briefly closed.

Kari Cuelenaere, an official at the Dutch embassy, said the impact had swept the water out of a swimming pool at a Kathmandu hotel where Dutch national day was being celebrated.

"It was horrible, all of a sudden all the water came up out of the pool and drenched everyone, the children started screaming," Cuelenaere told AFP. "Some parts of the city fell down, there was dust rising... There were many (rescue) helicopters."

Aftershock tremors could be felt more than two hours after the initial quake.

USGS initially measured the quake at 7.5 magnitude and later adjusted it to 7.8, with a depth of 15 kilometres.

Nepal and the rest of the Himalayas are particularly prone to earthquakes because of the collision of the Indian and Eurasia plates.

The thrust of the India plate beneath Eurasia generates a large amount of seismic activity, the USGS says on its website.

A spokesman for Nepal's home ministry said the government had released around $500 million as emergency funds for rescue operations.

India dispatched two military transport planes to help with the rescue and relief efforts and there were similar offers from around the region, including Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) said a disaster response was being flown to Nepal and that the Obama administration had authorised an initial $1 million "to address immediate needs."

India dispatched two military transport planes to help with the rescue and relief efforts and there were similar offers from around the region, including Sri Lanka and Pakistan. China will be dispatching a 68-strong China International Search & Rescue Team to Kathmandu.

"We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home and in Nepal," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

China's official Xinhua news agency said that two people, including an 83-year-old woman, were killed in the Tibet region.

The earthquake was also felt across large areas of Bangladesh, triggering panic in the capital Dhaka as people rushed out onto the streets.

In the garment manufacturing hub of Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, at least 50 workers were injured after the quake set off a stampede in a garment factory, according to the private Jamuna television.

The area has a history of earthquakes, with a 6.8 magnitude quake that hit eastern Nepal in August 1988 killing 721 people. A magnitude 8.1 quake killed 10,700 people in Nepal and eastern India in 1934.


The earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude left buildings collapsed, injured many and left a pall of dust over the city, witnesses said.


"Everything started shaking. Everything fell down. The walls around the main road have collapsed. The national stadium's gates have collapsed," Anupa Shrestha, another witness said.


Speaking to AFP, metropolitan police spokesperson Dinesh Acharya said "our focus is on rescue in the core areas of Kathmandu where the population is concentrated," adding that "many houses and buildings have collapsed.


Initially, the death toll was expected to rise significantly as Kathmandu's decrepit buildings, crisscrossed by narrow alleys, are home to large families.


A 1934 quake of magnitude 8.3 in the impoverished Himalayan nation killed over 8,500 people.

The quake tore through the middle of highways in the capital and also caused damage to the country's only international airport, in a potential blow to relief efforts.


The airport's general manager, Birendra Prasad Shrestha, said it would remain closed "for safety reasons" at least until later in the afternoon.





Mohammad Shahab, a resident from Lahore, Pakistan, said he was sitting in his office when the earthquake rocked the city near the border with India, according to The Guardian.

People take refuge at a school following the earthquake. PHOTO: REUTERS

At the main hospital in Kathmandu, people with broken limbs and arms were being rushed in for treatment.

People take refuge at a school following the earthquake. PHOTO: REUTERS

A girl died after a statue fell on her in a park in Kathmandu, a witness said, while another died in India when her house collapsed.

People take refuge at a school following the earthquake. PHOTO: REUTERS

A historic tower built in the 19th century in Kathmandu collapsed, trapping at least 50 people, Nepalese media reported. The Dharara Tower, built in 1832, had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor. One body was removed from the tower and a second lay further up the road, a Reuters witness said.


People take refuge at a school following the earthquake. PHOTO: REUTERS


A Reuters reporter in Kathmandu said he had seen some buildings collapse and walls of several houses reduced to rubble.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expresses grief and sorrow

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the earthquake which hit earlier today, Radio Pakistan reported.

Nawaz also called his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koiral on Friday and extended his condolences and sympathies on the deaths caused by the massive earthquake. He expressed his deep shock at the devastation caused said that Pakistan was ready to provide every possible assistance and inquired about the nature of relief immediately required.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government has instructed its diplomatic missions in Nepal and India to approach the host government to ascertain the damage caused and to convey requirements for relief assistance. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also been readied to provide the relief assistance at a short notice.

Four C-130 planes comprising of medicines, medical team, 30-bed hospital, search and rescue experts, dry food, tents and blankets are ready to fly to Kathmandu.

To provide relief to the earthquake victims in Nepal four  C-130 aircrafts  carrying  30-bedded hospital comprising a team of doctors and specialists from the Pakistan army including surgical, medical, orthopedic, gynaecologist, anaesthisiologist, child specialist, radiologist and paramedics.

Furthermore, an urban search and rescue team of Pakistan Army, which is highly specialised for rescue during natural disasters, is also being sent. The urban search and rescue team is equipped with ground penetrating radars, concrete cutter. The team is specially trained to search people trapped in rubble. It will also carry sniffing dogs

Food items being dispatched include 2,000 meal-ready-to-eat packs, eatables, water bottles, medicines, 200 tents, 600 blankets and other necessary items. These items will be dispatched on Sunday.

President Mamnoon Hussain has also expressed deep shock and sadness over the loss of life in Nepal and Northern India.

Acting President Senator Mian Raza Rabbani has also expressed condolences over loss of life in the tragedy.

Twitter condolences 

People across the globe took to social media to share their sympathies with the people of Nepal including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


shahbaaz hussain | 7 years ago | Reply Now Nepal needs our extensive monetary and manual efforts, bare from countries of origin, we can think as humans, put ourself to extend our supports through available means from our countries.The pain is same wherever it hurts, whether in nepal or india or pakistan or anywhere in the world. we all human race need to come together.
Rakesh | 7 years ago | Reply @Sasa: Thanks Sasa.
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