At least 140 people were killed and dozens injured after a massive earthquake in a remote region of Nepal Friday night. Strong tremors of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake were felt as far as New Delhi, nearly 550 km from the epicenter. The quake was the strongest to hit Nepal in more than three months. Many buildings in the country’s western region collapsed due to the quake. Several aftershocks of varying magnitudes have also been recorded following the quake.
Hundreds of houses are feared to have collapsed in Jajarkot district, where the earthquake had its epicenter. Photos and videos on social media showed locals digging through rubble in the dark to pull out survivors. Many of the buildings were made of bricks and mud. The quake was the strongest in the country since 2015, when an earthquake killed about 9,000 people and reduced whole towns to rubble, for $6 billion to the economy.
The US Geological Survey measured the quake at a depth of about 18 kilometers (11.1 miles). It hit just before midnight when many people were asleep in their homes. An aftershock of similar magnitude followed the earthquake.
According to Nepal’s National Earthquake Monitoring and Research Center, the tremors lasted about one minute. They caused panic among residents and forced people to rush out of their houses. Several people were also reported to have fallen off the roofs of their houses. The tremors were also felt in parts of north Indian states.
Local officials said most of the deaths were in the western Karnali province. Ninety-two people were killed in Jajarkot and 38 in the neighboring Rukum West district, a police official told Reuters. The toll was expected to rise as rescue and search efforts were continuing.
The government appealed to political parties and social workers for donations to help arrange food, water, and shelter for the displaced people. The PM’s office said he flew to the area early Saturday with a medical team to oversee rescue and relief operations. The office said he had mobilized security agencies to launch immediate rescue and relief work.
Video footage from the scene shows crumbled facades of multi-storied houses and large pieces of furniture scattered on the ground. Many of the roads were blocked by landslides. Helicopters and small planes were sent to assist with rescue work.
The PM’s office said the Prime Minister expressed his deep sorrow over the loss of life and property damage in a post on X, formerly Twitter. The PM asked the authorities to clear the roads and make them safe, so relief and rescue teams could reach the affected areas as quickly as possible. He also appealed to people to donate money to help the victims’ families. The PM’s office has also urged the public to stay calm and avoid panic.