KATHMANDU, Nov 4 (Reuters) – At least 128 people were killed and dozens injured in Nepal after a powerful earthquake struck the western region of Jajarkot, collapsing houses and buildings in the area. India was shocked.
Nepal’s National Seismological Center said the quake had a magnitude of 6.4 at 11:47 pm (1802 GMT) on Friday. The German Research Center for Geosciences measured the quake at 5.7, down from 6.2, while the US Geological Survey put it at 5.6.
The quake was the deadliest since two earthquakes in the Himalayan country in 2015 killed nearly 9,000 people. Entire cities, centuries-old temples and other historic sites were subsequently razed to the ground, more than a million homes destroyed, and $6 billion in economic costs.
Officials feared the death toll from Friday’s quake could rise as they were unable to establish contact in the mountainous region near the epicenter, about 500 km (300 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu, where tremors were felt. The district has a population of 190,000 villages scattered in remote hills.
“The number of injured may be in the hundreds and the death toll may rise,” Jajarkot district official Harish Chandra Sharma told Reuters by phone.
Police spokesman Kuber Kadayat said 92 people were killed in Jajarkot and 36 in Ruk West district of Karnali province. The earthquake was in Ramathanda village.
At least 85 people were injured in Ruk West and 55 in Jajarkot, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said, while 50 people were in hospitals in Jajarkot alone, Sharma said.
“Many houses have collapsed and many more have developed cracks. Thousands of residents spent the night in the cold open as they were too scared to enter their cracked houses,” Sharma said. “I couldn’t get in.”
Police officer Namraj Bhattarai said the search and rescue operations were to reach the affected areas with roads blocked by landslides triggered by the earthquake.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal flew a 16-member military medical team to the area early Saturday to oversee search, rescue and relief operations, his office said.
Posting on social media platform X, Dahl expressed deep grief over the loss of life and property in the earthquake and directed security agencies to initiate immediate rescue and relief operations.
Local media footage showed the crumbling facades of multi-story brick houses, with large pieces of furniture strewn about. Videos at X showed people running into the streets as some buildings were evacuated.
“Houses have collapsed. People have fled their homes. I am in a crowd of panic-stricken residents. We are trying to find out the details of the damage,” police officer Santosh Rokha said over phone.
Report by Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu; Additional reporting by Aditya Kalra and Shivam Patel in New Delhi and Gnaneshwar Rajan and Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bangalore; Editing by Sandra Maller, YP Rajesh and William Mallard
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