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Dublin: 21°C Sunday 13 June 2021

Nepal death toll passes 2,500 as fresh aftershocks and avalanches hit

A strong aftershock has hit the region, as a massive rescue effort gets under way.

Updated at 10.20am

RESCUERS IN NEPAL have been searching frantically for survivors of an earthquake that killed more than 2,500 – digging through rubble in the devastated capital Kathmandu and airlifting victims of an avalanche at Everest base camp.

Terrified residents were woken by fresh aftershocks in the worst disaster to hit the impoverished Himalayan nation in more than 80 years, with many forced to spend the night trying to sleep out on the streets and open ground in tents.

The BBC reports that a powerful aftershock was felt in Nepal, India and Bangladesh – and that more avalanches were reported near Everest.

The latest tremor – measuring 6.7 in magnitude – was centred 60km east of Kathmandu.

“Another one, we have an aftershock right now,” an Indian mountaineer told the Reuters news wire during an interview from the Himalayas.

At Everest base camp, climber Alex Gavan tweeted that three avalanches had been set off.

Meanwhile, in Kathmandu, hospitals were so stretched that medics had to set up tents outside to treat patients.

The historic nine-storey Dharahara tower, a major tourist attraction, was among the buildings brought down yesterday, with at least a dozen bodies recovered from the ruins of the 19th-century tower.

Offers of help poured in from around the world, with the United States and European Union announcing they were sending in disaster response teams.

India flew out its stranded citizens in military planes while a 62-strong Chinese rescue team arrived with sniffer dogs.

National police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam said the number known to have died in Nepal had risen to 1,953 while 4,629 people had been injured.

Officials in India said the toll there now stood at 53, mainly in the eastern state of Bihar, while Chinese state media said 17 people had been killed in the Tibet region.

“We have deployed all our resources for search and rescues,” Bam told AFP.

Helicopters have been sent to remote areas. We are sifting through the rubble where buildings have collapsed to see if we can find anyone.

Nepal Earthquake Family members break down during the cremation of earthquake victims in Bhaktapur, near Kathmandu Source: Niranjan Shrestha

The Red Cross said it was concerned about the fate of  villages near the epicentre of the quake northwest of Kathmandu.

Officials said 17 people were so far known to have died on Mount Everest where an avalanche triggered by the earthquake buried part of base camp yesterday.

It is the deadliest disaster in Everest’s history and comes almost exactly a year after an avalanche killed 16 sherpa guides.

India Nepal Earthquake Indian soldiers on a rescue mission to Nepal rush to board an Indian Air Force aircraft near New Delhi, India Source: Altaf Qadri

Search and recovery

As rescuers sifted through the huge mounds of rubble, the hospitals were overflowing with victims who suffered multiple fractures and trauma.

“We have treated many people since yesterday, majority children,” said Samir Acharya, a doctor at Nepal’s Annapurna Neurological Hospital.

Most patients have head injuries or fractures. Two of our patients died, two are critical.

Acharya said medics were working out of a tent set up in a parking lot because of overflowing patients, while some patients were too scared to stay in the building.

Families had grabbed whatever possessions they could muster and sought shelter on the streets, many of which had been split asunder.

Weather forecasters warned that rain was on the way, with dark clouds looming over Kathmandu and promising more misery for displaced survivors.

Nepal Earthquake Volunteers carry an injured boy after rescuing him from the debris of a building that was damaged in the earthquake in Kathmandu. Source: Niranjan Shrestha

Nepal and the rest of the Himalayas are particularly prone to earthquakes because of the collision of the Indian and Eurasia plates.

An 6.8 magnitude quake hit eastern Nepal in August 1988 killing 721 people, and a magnitude 8.1 quake killed 10,700 people in Nepal and India in 1934.

Nepal Earthquake Rescue workers search in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Irish groups and climbers in the region have been posting messages on social media, and contacting home by phone to confirm that they are safe.

Reporting from AFP and Daragh Brophy.

Read: Ongoing efforts to contact all 50 Irish citizens in earthquake-hit Nepal

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