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Nepal quake death toll crosses 4,000

NEPAL: The death toll from a 7.9 magnitude earthquake which struck Nepal on Saturday has crossed 4,000, sources confirmed.

“Death toll has reached 4000 so far across the country,” of which more than 1000 were in the Kathmandu Valley, a home ministry official said. The quake measuring 7.9 is the strongest to hit the country in 81 years.

The earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude left buildings collapsed, injured many and left a pall of dust over the city, witnesses said.

“Everything started shaking. Everything fell down. The walls around the main road have collapsed. The national stadium’s gates have collapsed,” Anupa Shrestha, another witness said.

Speaking to media, metropolitan police spokesperson Dinesh Acharya said “our focus is on rescue in the core areas of Kathmandu where the population is concentrated,” adding that “many houses and buildings have collapsed.

The death toll could be expected to rise significantly as Kathmandu’s decrepit buildings, crisscrossed by narrow alleys, are home to large families.

It is pertinent to mention here that a 1934 quake of magnitude 8.3 in the impoverished Himalayan nation killed over 8,500 people.

The quake tore through the middle of highways in the capital and also caused damage to the country’s only international airport, in a potential blow to relief efforts.

The airport’s general manager, Birendra Prasad Shrestha, said it would remain closed “for safety reasons” at least until later in the afternoon.

Kari Cuelenaere, an official at the Dutch embassy, said that the impact had swept the water out of a swimming pool at a Kathmandu hotel where Dutch national was being celebrated.

“It was horrible, all of a sudden all the water came up out of the pool and drenched everyone, the children started screaming,” Cuelenaere told media.

Meanwhile, tremors were also felt in parts of Pakistan and India and the earthquake has triggered avalanches in Mount Everest.

At the main hospital in Kathmandu, people with broken limbs and arms were rushed in for treatment. It was unclear how many people were injured. People took refuge at a school following the earthquake.

A girl died after a statue fell on her in a park in Kathmandu, a witness said, while another died in India when her house collapsed.

A historic tower built in the 19th century in Kathmandu collapsed, trapping at least 50 people, Nepal media reported.

The Dharara Tower, built in 1832, had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor.

Climbers on Mount Everest were caught in the aftermath of the earthquake as an avalanche hit the mountain, killing at least eight people and raising fears for other climbers, a tourism ministry official said.

“We got caught in an earthquake on Everest. We are both ok…snowing here so no choppers coming,” a reporter said in an SMS on approach to base camp while on assignment.

According to Gyanendra Shrestha at the ministry in Kathmandu, “The toll could go up; it may include foreigners as well as sherpas (guides).”

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