Earthquake in Nepal, major damage feared

Above 7.5 on Richter scale; tremors felt across India25 Apr 2015 | 2:08 PM

KATHMANDU/DELHI: An earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richer scale struck 80 km east of Pokhara in Nepal on Saturday, about half way between the town and the capital Kathmandu. US agencies put the magnitude at 7.9.

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Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

Kathmandu/Delhi

An earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richer scale struck 80 km east of Pokhara in Nepal on Saturday, about half way between the town and the capital Kathmandu. US agencies put the magnitude at 7.9.

There was panic in Nepal, which bore the brunt of the massive temblor, though tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi and Punjab in India. Besides capital Kathmandu and Besisahar in Lamjung, the cities which were affected included Bharatpur, Pokhara and Kirtipur.

Initial reports said one girl was killed in Kathmandu and another in India. There were also reports of houses being damaged. The earthquake that lasted for over a minute had an epicentre 31 km deep in earth. Mobile phone services were affected across Nepal and at a few places in Bihar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home & in Nepal”.

The Prime Minister, who has called a "high-level" meeting at 3 pm, also spoke with the Chief Minister of Bihar and Sikkim on the issue. 

Reports from across North India said people scurried out of their homes and offices even as buildings shook due to the quake and the strong aftershocks.

The tremors were so strong that people feared for their lives. Some of them began to pray and tried to get as far away as possible from the buildings. Most ran to open grounds. Many of the high-rises saw people evacuate in large numbers.

"I suddenly found my chair shaking. I live on the fourth floor in an apartment. I just rushed out of my building... shouting and requesting people not to use the lift," said Ravindra Kumar, a resident at Sirsi road in Jaipur.

The US Geological Survey said it "expects heavy damage” in Nepal.

Kathmandu airports were closed and flights diverted to India. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been put on alert.

Earlier this month on April 1, an earthquake of magnitude 5.1 was felt in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand.

Ajit Tyagi, former director general of the IMD, said: “Such type of earthquakes has occurred in the region. The region is known to have seismic history. Himalayan regions have the history of earthquakes of high magnitudes.”

Experts say that it was predicted for long that “such an earthquake will happen and the last one in the region was reported in 1934.”

IMD says, “The earthquake was followed by aftershocks. It takes about 100 days for the plates to come to their equilibrium. The material displaced will have to come to its original place and the energy released may cause aftershocks, but not of such high magnitude adding that the Earthquakes do not kill but the buildings do.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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