Kathmandu, April 26: The toll in Nepal’s worst quake in over 80 years crossed the 2,000-mark on Sunday as rescuers dug with bare hands and heavy equipment through tonnes of rubble for survivors, with fresh aftershocks triggering panic and hampering relief efforts.
A strong 6.7-magnitude aftershock sent people running for open spaces as they struggled with the devastation caused by Saturday’s massive 7.9-magnitude temblor that displaced and injured thousands besides causing a deadly avalanche on the Mount Everest claiming 17 lives.
“The latest figure says more than 2,000 people have died and several thousands have been wounded and more counts are coming,” a PTI report quoted Narayan Khatkar, Nepal’s Urban Development Minister, as saying.
A police official told media in Kathmandu that 2,123 people were killed.
Over 5,000 people were also injured in the earthquake and the dozen aftershocks that continued till today, with the strongest measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale.
Climbers on Mount Everest said they saw fresh series of avalanches and a big landslide in the base camp.
International teams, including from India, have touched down quake-hit Nepal that has declared a state of emergency in the wake of the disaster caused, the worst in over 80 years of Nepal’s recorded history.
Rescuers have been hunting for survivors under heaps of debris with bare hands as well as heavy equipment though the efforts have been hampered due to fresh tremors and thunderstorms.
Locals and tourists sifted through mounds of debris for survivors. Cheers rose when people were found alive, thought mostly bodies were pulled out.
The earthquake and the aftershocks left behind a trail of death and destruction, flattening houses and buildings, including the iconic Dharhara tower and the landmark Darbar Square in the heart of the capital, trapping scores of people.
Thousands of people spent last night in the open in chilly weather, anticipating more aftershocks.
1,053 people are reported killed in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Officials fear the death toll could rise as desperate search for survivors continued.
According to initial reports related to today’s aftershock, a tunnel caved in at the Trishuli Hydel Project and around 60 labourers are feared trapped.
MI-17 helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have carried out five casualty evacuation sorties and the injured have been moved to military hospitals.
As many as 17 Mount Everest climbers, including foreigners, were reportedly killed in an avalanche triggered by the earthquake.