Nepal hit by major aftershock as search for quake survivors intensifies

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Reuters
A strong earthquake aftershock struck India and Nepal on Sunday, shaking buildings in New Delhi and triggering an avalanche in the Himalayas.
The United States Geological Survey said the tremor was 6.7 magnitude, less than the 7.9 quake that struck the region on Saturday killing at least 2,000 people.
"Another one, we have an aftershock right now, oh shit," Indian mountaineer Arjun Vajpai told Reuters by telephone from advanced base camp on Mount Makalu, 20 km (12 miles) from Everest.
Screams and the sound of an avalanche could be heard over the phone line Vajpai was speaking on. At Everest base camp, Romanian climber Alex Gavan tweeted that the aftershock had set off three avalanches.
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Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu valley, killing at least 2,000, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.
Army officer Santosh Nepal and a group of rescuers worked all night to open a passage into a collapsed building in the capital Kathmandu. They had to use pick axes because bulldozers could not get through the ancient city\’s narrow streets.
"We believe there are still people trapped inside," he told Reuters, pointing at concrete debris and twisted reinforcement rods where a three-storey residential building once stood.
In Everest\’s worst disaster, the bodies of 17 climbers were recovered from the mountain on Sunday after being caught in avalanches. A plane carrying the first 15 injured climbers landed at Kathmandu airport at around noon local time.
"There is a lot of confusion on the mountain. The toll will rise," said Gelu Sherpa, one of the walking wounded among the first 15 injured climbers flown to Kathmandu. "Tents have been blown away," said Sherpa, his head in bandages.
Hundreds of climbers, many foreigners, remain stranded on the mountain.
With the government overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, India flew in medical supplies and relief crews, while China sent in a 60-strong emergency team. Relief agencies said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were overflowing and running out of medical supplies.
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Patients wait at the parking lot of Norvic International Hospital after an earthquake hit Kathmandu. Photo –  AP
Among the capital\’s landmarks destroyed in the earthquake was the 60-metre (200-foot) Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal, with a viewing balcony that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years.
A jagged stump was all that was left of the lighthouse-like structure. As bodies were pulled from the ruins on Saturday, a policeman said up to 200 people had been trapped inside.
Bodies were still arriving on Sunday morning at one hospital in Kathmandu, where police officer Sudan Shreshtha said his team had brought 166 corpses overnight.
"I am tired and exhausted, but I have to work and have the strength," Shreshtha told Reuters as an ambulance brought three more victims to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.
Bodies were heaped in a dark room; some covered with cloth, some not. A boy aged about seven had his face half missing and his stomach bloated like a football. The stench of death was overpowering.
Outside, a 30-year-old woman who had been widowed wailed: "Oh Lord, oh God, why did you take him alone? Take me along with him also."
Save the Children\’s Peter Olyle said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were running out of storage room for bodies and emergency supplies. "There is a need for a government decision on bringing in kits from the military," he said from Kathmandu.
Some buildings in Kathmandu toppled like houses of cards, others leaned at precarious angles, and partial collapses exposed living rooms and furniture in place and belongings stacked on shelves.
Rescuers, some wearing face masks to keep out the dust from collapsed buildings, scrambled over mounds of splintered timber and broken bricks in the hope of finding survivors. Some used their bare hands to fill small white buckets with dirt and rock.
Thousands of people spent the night outside in chilly temperatures and patchy rain, too afraid to return to their damaged homes.
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A group of people gather outdoors on a street as an earthquake hits Kathmandu city, Nepal. Photo –  AP
On Sunday, survivors wandered the streets clutching flimsy bed rolls and blankets, while others sat in the street cradling their children, surrounded by a few plastic bags of belongings.
The 7.9 magnitude quake struck at midday on Saturday at a busy time of year for the tourism-reliant country\’s trekking and climbing season, with an estimated 300,000 foreign tourists in the country, home to many World Heritage sites.
Nepal\’s police put the death toll at 1,910, with 4,625 hurt. At least 700 were killed in the capital, a city of about 1 million people where many homes are old, flimsy and packed close together.
There was nearly 1,000 climbers and sherpas on Everest when the avalanche struck, claiming the highest toll of any disaster on the world\’s highest mountain.
Climber photographs on social media sites showed tents and other structures at Everest base camp flattened by rocks and snow. The first reported photo of the avalanche showed a monster "cloud-like" mass of snow and rock descending down the mountain.
Seventeen bodies were recovered on Mount Everest base camp and 61 people were injured when part of the base camp was engulfed by the snowslide, Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told Reuters.
Two light helicopters shuttled the injured from base camp to a lower altitude, from where they could be evacuated back to the capital, emergency officials at Kathmandu airport said.
 
"All badly injured heli evacuated," Romanian climber Alex Gavan tweeted from base camp. "Caring for those needing. Want sleep."
Another 100 climbers higher up Everest at camps 1 and 2, were safe but their way back down the mountain was blocked by damage to the treacherous Khumbu icefalls, scene of an avalanche that killed 16 climbers last year. Helicopters had started to shuttle them to base camp, Gavan reported.
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Emergency workers and bystanders clear debris while searching for survivors under a collapsed temple in Basantapur Durbar Square following an earthquake on April 25, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Omar Havana/Getty Images)
The earthquake, centred 50 miles (80 km) east of the second city, Pokhara, was all the more destructive for being shallow. It was the biggest to hit the Himalayan nation since the quake of 1934, the worst ever, killed 8,500 people.
Neighbouring India, where 49 people were reported killed in the quake and its aftershocks, sent military aircraft to Nepal with medical equipment and relief teams. It also said it had dispatched 285 members of its National Disaster Response Force.
In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China\’s state news agency, Xinhua.
SOURCE –  REUTERS 

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