At Least 42 Dead After 7.3 Earthquake Hits Nepal

At Least 42 Dead After 7.3 Earthquake Hits Nepal

By Bhrikuti Rai and Shashank Bengali
Los Angeles Times

(TNS) KATMANDU, Nepal — Still reeling from last month’s devastating earthquake, Nepal was hammered again Tuesday by a magnitude 7.3 temblor that caused dozens more deaths, unleashed fresh landslides and brought down unsteady buildings.

By late afternoon, Nepal’s Home Affairs Ministry said at least 42 people were killed and more than 1,117 injured in the largest aftershock yet recorded from the 7.8 quake on April 25. Officials warned that the toll could rise.

The epicenter was about 47 miles northeast of the capital, Katmandu, near the Chinese border, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The April 25 quake, which killed more than 8,150 people, was centered in the mountains west of Katmandu.

The tremor struck just before 1 p.m. local time, sending residents of the capital scurrying into the open air for safety, and was followed by a series of smaller tremors that rattled nerves even further.

Within hours, new makeshift tents had begun popping up in parts of Katmandu as families that had survived the earlier quake and returned to their homes in recent days decided again they were safer sleeping outdoors.

The Home Affairs Ministry said nine people were pulled out alive from damaged buildings in the remote Dolakha district, close to the quake’s epicenter near Mt. Everest, and three from structures in Katmandu.

A U.S. search-and-rescue team was seen leaving its hotel in central Katmandu a few hours after the quake and was believed to be headed for Dolakha. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Katmandu said three U.S. military aircraft were taking 20 U.S. personnel, including 18 urban search-and-rescue team members, “to conduct initial assessments in Charikot,” the seat of Dolakha district.

Embassy officials said they had no immediate reports of fatalities or injuries to U.S. citizens.

At least 30 of the country’s 75 administrative districts were affected, according to state-run Radio Nepal. The quake caused the temporary closure of Katmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, the hub for relief operations, and was felt as far away as New Delhi, 500 miles west of Katmandu.

At least four were killed in Chautara, the seat of Sindhupalchowk district, said Paul Dillon, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, citing reports from colleagues there. The town of about 6,000 people, which is built on a rugged ridge line, saw roughly 90 percent of its buildings damaged or destroyed in last month’s quake.

Landslides were reported in parts of Sindhupalchowk, which suffered the greatest number of casualties in last month’s tremor. It was not immediately clear if the landslides caused new casualties.

In central Katmandu’s Durbar Square, which was all but leveled in the April 25 quake, loose debris tumbled to the ground from the damaged hulk of a nine-story palace. Residents of the capital ran into the streets to escape damaged buildings and crammed into city buses in an apparent effort to get home.

(Rai is a special correspondent. Staff writer Bengali reported from Mumbai, India.), (c)2015 Los Angeles Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: People started rushing into an open ground after a fresh 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Kathmandu, Nepal on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. At least 42 people have been killed and 1,006 injured in the Himalayan country and neighboring states, as many buildings already weakened by a much bigger quake last month were brought down. The earthquake was centered 68 kilometers (42 miles) west of the town of Namche Bazaar, close to Mount Everest and the border with Tibet, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It could be felt as far away as northern India and Bangladesh. (Sumit Shrestha/Zuma Press/TNS)