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US helicopter missing in Nepal after massive earthquake that killed dozens

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said there were no reports or suggestions of any Irish casualties.

Updated 9.10pm

Nepal Earthquake File photo Source: Niranjan Shrestha/PA

A US MARINE Corps helicopter, carrying out earthquake relief in Nepal has been reported missing today.

Six marines and two Nepalise soldiers were on board at the time, officials said.

An aircraft search had spotted no sign of smoke or a crash site by nightfall, raising hopes the helicopter may have made a safe emergency landing, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said.

Nepal Earthquake Rescue workers inspect the site where buildings collapsed in the earthquake in Kathmandu today. Source: Bikram Rai/PA

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck Nepal this morning – just over two weeks after more than 8,000 people were killed in April’s quake.

Officials in Nepal said at least 48 people were killed while 17 people also died across the border in northern India, most in the state of Bihar. More than 1,100 people were also injured.

Nepal Earthquake A Nepalese victim of today's earthquake rests at Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu. Source: Niranjan Shrestha/PA

The tremors struck at 12:35pm local time in the Himalayan nation – some 76 km east of Kathmandu, close to Mount Everest. The latest quake hit at a depth of 15 km, according to the US Geological Survey.

A spokesperson for Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it was in ongoing contact with citizens remaining in Nepal that there were no reports or suggestions of any Irish casualties.

centre A map from the USGS showing the epicentre of the quake.

Another 5.6-magnitude aftershock hit minutes later in Nepal, according to the USGS.

An emergency worker in Kathmandu, speaking to Sky News in the immediate aftermath of today’s initial tremors, said it was “very distressing”. The new quake lasted “20 to 30 seconds” in the Nepalese capital, Olle Castell of Plan UK said.

The country is still struggling to recover from the earthquake on April 25 that killed more than 8,150 people and injured more than 17,860 as it flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings.

Footage also emerged of members of parliament in Kathmandu fleeing the chamber as the quake struck.

‘Significant’

Concern’s Ross O’Sullivan, speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning from a location close to Nepal, said the latest quake had been “fairly significant”.

He said that while locals had experienced tremors daily in recent weeks it hadn’t been “anything that had anyone running out of doors”

This one was “a biggie,” he added.

The latest quake, O’Sullivan said, had started off as a”low rumbling” before buildings started shaking. “Everyone got outdoors. Everyone is fearful, as you can imagine.” 

“Only in the last few days people have started to feel safe to go back inside. This is going to put the fear of God once more into them.”

Landslide

The Red Cross said it had received reports of large-scale casualties in the town of Chautara in Sindhupalchowk, where its Norwegian branch is running a field hospital.

“Hundreds of people are pouring in. They are treating dozens for injuries and they have performed more than a dozen surgeries,” said spokeswoman Nichola Jones.

An emergency tent hospital in Tatopani near the Chinese border run by the Canadian Red Cross had been damaged by a landslide, she said.

There have been several reports of landslides in the worst-hit areas, making the task of getting relief to remote communities in the mountainous country even more difficult.

Source: Niranjan Shrestha/PA

Regine Kopplow, a German aid worker who was in the Dolakha district headquarters of Charikot when the latest quake hit, saw huge dust clouds rise into the air as buildings collapsed.

“I saw a woman in the building opposite jump from the third floor who suffered injuries to her leg, elbow and hand,” said Kopplow, who works for Concern Worldwide.

“People stayed outside, the shaking continued. Some people were crying, hugging each other and sitting on the ground supporting each other.”

 

Nepal Earthquake Nepalese people gather in the middle of a road during the quake - in Bhaktapur. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Oxfam’s Colm Byrne, who’s also in Nepal, said people were shocked and scared after the quake.

“I am in a rural area and felt the quake in Janakpur but it’s too early to know how bad it’s been for others,” he said – adding that the charity would assess the damage caused.

The owner of a craft shop in Kathmandu told the Reuters news agency the earthquake was a “really big one”.

Tremors

Indian channel NDTV was broadcasting live from New Delhi when the earthquake hit – and TV cameras picked up some of tremors (below). The host said the “entire studio” was shaking – adding that the quake could be felt “quite strongly” in the area.

Source: NDTV/YouTube

Other cities in northern India were also rocked, including Bihar where television footage showed residents gathering on the streets and goods having toppled over in shop windows.

A Chinese official at the Tibet regional seismological bureau said there had been reports of damage but no casualties.

“Today’s aftershock was felt strongly in Zhangmu town of Shigatse city,” the official who gave his name as Chen told AFP.

“According to local government, some houses damaged by the previous earthquake collapsed. Since residents were transferred to safe areas last time and are still living in tents, no casualties have been reported so far.”

Includes reporting from the AFP wire and Michelle Hennessy.

Read: 101-year-old man pulled from rubble alive is surprised he survived second Nepal quake

Read: ‘The avalanche just missed us’: Irish home safe after Nepal earthquake

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