27 Apr 2015

Over 3700 dead in Nepal quake

10:07 pm on 27 April 2015

The number of people killed in Nepal by the Himalayan country's worst earthquake in eight decades has risen to 3726, a home ministry official said tonight.

More than 6500 people have been injured, according to the National Emergency Operation Centre.

It is the worst disaster to hit Nepal for more than 80 years.

It is the worst disaster to hit Nepal for more than 80 years. Photo: AFP

Dozens of people are also reported to have been killed in neighbouring China and India.

Thousands spent their second night outside on Sunday after the 7.8-magnitude quake, which also triggered deadly avalanches on Mount Everest.

Vast tent cities have sprung up in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, for those displaced or afraid to return to their homes as strong aftershocks continue.

"We don't have a choice, our house is shaky. The rain is seeping in but what can we do?" 34-year-old shopkeeper Rabi Shrestha, who was sleeping by the roadside with his family, told AFP news agency.

Tent cities have sprung up in Kathmandu for those displaced by the earthquake.

Tent cities have sprung up in Kathmandu for those displaced by the earthquake. Photo: AFP

Reuters reports that hundreds of Nepalis have been fleeing Kathmandu for the plains and that roads leading out of the city of 1 million were jammed with people, many with babies in their arms, trying to climb onto buses or hitch a ride aboard cars and trucks.

Rescue missions and aid have started arriving to help cope with the aftermath of the earthquake, the worst to hit Nepal for more than 80 years.

The roads to the earthquake's epicentre, northwest of the capital, have also been cleared and rescue teams are heading out.

Efforts to dig victims out from under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kathmandu are also continuing.

Rescuers in places used their bare hands to dig for survivors still buried underneath the rubble.

Rescuers in places used their bare hands to dig for survivors still buried underneath the rubble. Photo: AFP

But home ministry official Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told Reuters rescuers were "in a really bad shape" after working non-stop for two days. "We are all about to collapse."

Meanwhile, officials have warned that the number of casualties could rise as rescue teams reach remote mountainous areas of western Nepal.

Initial reports suggest that many communities - especially those close to mountainsides - suffered significant quake damage.

"Villages like this are routinely affected by landslides, and it's not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1,000 people to be completely buried by rock falls," World Vision spokesman Matt Darvas said.

A man evacuated by helicopter to Pokhara, 200km from Kathmandu, said almost every home in his village of more than 1000 houses had been destroyed, said Mr Darvas.

In Dhading district, 80km west of Kathmandu, people were camped in the open, the hospital was overflowing, the power was off and shops were closed, Reuters news agency reported.

Renewed panic

A powerful aftershock was felt on Sunday in Nepal, India and Bangladesh, and more avalanches were reported near Everest.

The 6.7-magnitude tremor, centred 60km east of Kathmandu, sent people running in panic for open ground in the city.

A Nepalese family in a makeshift shelter.

A Nepalese family in a makeshift shelter. Photo: AFP

It brought down some houses that had been damaged in the initial quake.

At hospitals rattled by the aftershocks, staff moved sick and injured patients outside on Sunday afternoon.

Both private and government hospitals have run out of space and are treating patients outside, officials say.

Deepak Panda, a disaster management official, said medical services were "overwhelmed with rescue and assistance requests from all across the country", Reuters reports.

Stranded on Everest

Foreign climbers and their Nepalese guides around Mt Everest were caught by the tremors and a huge avalanche that buried part of the base camp in snow.

More than 60 people were injured and many people are still missing.

More than 200 climbers have now been rescued around Mount Everest.

Rescue team personnel carry an injured person towards a waiting rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp.

Rescue team personnel carry an injured person towards a waiting rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp. Photo: AFP

At least four out of seven Unesco World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley - three of them ancient city squares - were severely damaged.

Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit said that the destruction was "culturally speaking an incalculable loss", although he said monuments could be rebuilt.

In Bhaktapur, until now Nepal's best preserved old city, reports say half of all homes have been destroyed and 80 percent of temples damaged.

Members of India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) prepare to fly to Nepal.

Members of India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) prepare to fly to Nepal. Photo: AFP

There are 14 international medical teams on the way to Nepal, the UN says, and up to 15 international search-and-rescue teams on the way, the UN says, which will if necessary use military aircraft or the overland route from India to get into Nepal.

Offers of help have come in from around the world. Some foreign teams have already arrived and are helping with search and rescue efforts - braving aftershocks at Kathmandu airport that forced some aircraft to circle before landing.

The UN children's agency says nearly one million children in Nepal urgently need humanitarian assistance as they were particularly vulnerable.

The country is running out of water and food, and there are frequent power cuts, the UN says.

Heavy rain earlier on Saturday further worsened conditions with UN officials expressing concern that thunderstorms that could harm people staying outdoors and lead to a shortage of vaccines against disease including diarrhoea and measles.

- BBC -

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs