Kathmandu: A new 7.3-magnitude earthquake and seven powerful aftershocks struck Nepal today killing at least 50 people and triggering panic in the Himalayan nation already devastated by a monster temblor less than three weeks ago that had claimed over 8,000 lives.
According to Nepal Police Spokesperson Kamal Singh Bam, the fresh quake that hit hardest in remote mountain districts northeast of the country's capital Kathmandu killed at least 50 people, injuring more than 1,100 people besides causing further physical damages. Unofficial reports put the death toll at around 60.
The earthquake struck at 12:35 PM, some 83 km east of Kathmandu near Mount Everest at a shallow depth of 15 km, the US Geological Survey(USGS) said.
The agency had earlier measured the quake at 7.4 on the Richter Scale but later revised the intensity to 7.3. The quake hit Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk districts - the worst-affected areas in the last month's temblor. At least 26 people were killed in Dolakha, police said, adding a total of 32 of 75 districts were affected in the fresh quake.
A second tremor of 6.3-magnitude struck about 30 minutes after the 7.3-magnitude quake that sent terrifed residents running into the streets of the traumatised capital.
The USGS said there were five more aftershocks measuring over 5 on the Richter Scale after the second tremor that kept people on the edge.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department(IMD), the first quake was followed by at least seven more tremors in a span of less than two hours.
Police said several houses collapsed in the quake.
The fresh quake triggered massive panic among the people, who have been staying in the open since the 7.9-magnitude lethal temblor struck on April 25, killing over 8,000 people and flattening thousands of buildings besides destroying whole villages.
“All available helicopters along with Medical Team; SSR Team going to be mobilised to Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk soon,” said Nepal's National Emergency Operation Centre. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has stationed eight helicopters in Nepal and one of them conducted an aerial survey soon after today's quake.
Nepal's only international airport, the Tribhuvan International Airport, was briefly closed by authorities and flights to Kathmandu were diverted.
Authorities have also ordered all schools to be closed for the next two weeks.
Strong tremors were felt in Kathmandu where people ran out of their houses in panic and some even started crying. Authorities appealed to people to stay in open field. The temblor triggered landslides and toppled buildings in Nepal that recently witnessed its worst quake in over 80 years and over 160 aftershocks.
At the main hospital in Kathmandu, patients hurt in last month's quake were brought out in wheelchairs to avoid further injury.
Today's quake had its impact in several cities in Bihar, West Bengal and UP and tremors were felt across vast stretches of east and northeast India, where the death toll has reached 17 so far.
The tremors were also felt in China, where one woman was killed in Tibet.