Fresh Tremors Leave Nepal, Katmandu Reeling; Over 2500 Dead, 6000 Injured
By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
KATMANDU/NEW DELHI — A desperate search for survivors trapped under tons of debris across the Katmandu valley halted, along with relief operations, for a few hours on Sunday, after an intense 6.9 magnitude aftershock convulsed the region and several north Indian states including Delhi shortly after noon.
The death toll exceeds 2,500 in the Himalayan nation, with more than 750 deaths in Katmandu alone. There are close to 6,000 people injured.
Crowds of people could be seen lying on grounds outside buildings of the shattered capital, several with intravenous drips, and panic written all over their faces.
With rumors flying around in the near absence of a phone network, The Times of India said people prepared to spend their second consecutive night under an open sky. Heavy rain added to their misery.
Experts said the epicenter of Sunday’s aftershock was 75 km east of Katmandu, which could, at a stretch, be taken as another tremor of moderate intensity. While its impact wasn’t anywhere close to what the region shook under on Saturday, it was the most severe of 35 aftershocks in the region in the past over 24 hours.
The region faces a grim situation. That’s also due in part to prediction of heavy rain and thunderstorms in Nepal, eastern Uttar Pradesh, northern Bihar and sub-Himalayan Sikkim and West Bengal in the next 24 to 72 hours.
The weather is affecting the ongoing relief work, as well as restricting flights into the ravaged capital.
According to The Times of India, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala arrived to a devastated city from an official trip to Southeast Asia, amid signs that his administration was falling short on rescue work and sustaining adequate supplies of water, electricity and food.
A story by Katharine Lackey for USA Today said it will be some time before the full extent of the damage and the final death toll is known. At least 29 districts have been designated as crisis zones. Hospitals in the capital have been overwhelmed. About 90 percent of the 1,000 homes in the villages of Laprak and Barpak near the epicenter were destroyed.
Photo caption: People clear rubble in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was severely damaged by the earthquake Photo: AFP/Getty