1,450 dead … and counting

A collapsed house in Katmandu following the quake.

A collapsed house in Katmandu following the quake.

A powerful earthquake struck Nepal and sent tremors through northern India on Saturday, killing over 1,450 people, touching off a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest and toppling a 19th-century tower in the capital Katmandu.

There were reports of devastation in outlying, isolated areas after the midday quake of magnitude 7.9, centered 80 km east of Pokhara.

An overwhelmed government appealed for foreign help. India was first to respond by sending in military aircraft with medical equipment.

Katmandu confirmed that the latest death toll had reached 1,457 and will continue to rise.

A further 36 fatalities were reported in northern India, 12 in Chinese Tibet and four in Bangladesh.

The quake was more destructive for being shallow, toppling buildings, opening gaping cracks in roads and sending people scurrying into the open as aftershocks rattled homes.

An Indian Army mountaineering team found 18 bodies on Mount Everest, where an avalanche unleashed by the earthquake swept through the base camp.

Among the Katmandu landmarks destroyed by the quake was the 60-meter-high Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal.

A jagged stump just 10 meters high was all that was left of the lighthouse-like structure. As bodies were pulled out of the ruins, a policeman said up to 200 people had been trapped inside.

Rescuers scrabbled through the rubble of destroyed buildings, among them ancient, wooden Hindu temples.

The tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi and other cities in northern India, with reports that they had lasted up to a minute.

As night fell, thousands of scared residents continued to camp out in parks and compounds. Meteorologists forecast rain and thunderstorms for Saturday night and Sunday.


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