KATHMANDU, Nepal, 25 April 2015
A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries.
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.
Panicked residents rushed into the streets as the tremor erupted around midday, with the impact felt hundreds of miles away in big swathes of northern India and even in Bangladesh.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu at 0611 GMT, with walls crumbling and families racing outside of their homes.
“The walls of houses have collapsed around me onto the road. All the families are outside in their yards huddled together. The tremors are still going on,” an AFP reporter said in Kathmandu.
Another resident recounted scenes of panic and mayhem.
“Everything started shaking. Everything fell down. The walls around the main road have collapsed. The national stadiums gates have collapsed,” Kathmandu resident Anupa Shrestha said.
Tremors felt across region
While there were no immediate reports of deaths, police confirmed that many buildings had collapsed.
“Our focus is on rescue in the core areas of Kathmandu where the population is concentrated,” Dinesh Acharya, metropolitan police spokesman, said.
“Many houses and buildings have collapsed. We don’t know if there have been fatalities yet,” he told AFP.
Initially measured at 7.5 magnitude, the quake was later adjusted to 7.9, with a depth of 15 kilometres, the USGS said. It hit 68 kilometres east of the tourist town of Pokhara.
Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi.
“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.
The AFP office in Delhi was evacuated twice following the quake, a correspondent said.
Laxman Singh Rathore, director-general of the Indian Meteorological Department, told reporters that the impact had been felt across large areas 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 that a second tremor of a 6.6 magnitude had been recorded around 20 minutes later and centred around the same region.
“Since it is a big earthquake, there are aftershocks and people should stay cautious,” he said.
“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.”
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 stampede in a garment factory, according to private Jamuna television.
A 6.9-magnitude quake hit northeastern India in 2011, rocking neighbouring Nepal and killing 110 people.