Home International Panic stalks Nepal as quake kills at least 5

Panic stalks Nepal as quake kills at least 5


Kathmandu: Panic spread through Nepal Sunday as a major quake hit the tremor-prone Himalayan nation, killing at least five people – three of them in capital city Kathmandu alone, injuring dozens and causing houses to collapse like a pack of cards.

Measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, the quake, with its epicentre in northeastern India’s Sikkim state and eastern Nepal, struck at 6.25 p.m., lasting for around two minutes and resulting in disruption of power supply and telephone lines. Large areas of the city were plunged into darkness.

The biggest casualty was reported in the crammed Kathmandu where the wall of the British embassy, located in the Lainchaur area close to the Indian embassy, collapsed, smashing down on a car and killing all three in the vehicle.

There were angry outbursts from locals and passersby who blamed the embassy authorities for the accident.

Army personnel and armed police battled to remove the debris and recue the people trapped under it. Three of the injured died in the Manmohan Memorial Hospital during treatment while at least four more were receiving treatment.

The dead were identified as Sajan Shrestha of Gorkha district, his daughter Ashima, and Bir Bahadur Majhi.

Two more people were said to have been killed in the congested Kalanki area of the capital but there was no immediate official confirmation.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, poised to depart for New York Sunday night to attend the 66th UN General Assembly, called an emergency meeting of the cabinet to discuss rescue and relief measures.

In Sunsari in eastern Nepal, two men were killed, police said. They were identified as Santosh Pariyar and his nephew Bimal Pariyar.

In Sankhuwasabha in eastern Nepal, at least 16 buildings have been affected, including a police barracks, a bank and a school.

Nepal’s parliament was in session when the quake struck, causing alarmed lawmakers to scream and run out for safety. Chairman Subash Nembang said he was adjourning the house for some time.

The epicentre of the quake in Nepal was Taplejung and Sankhuwasabha in the east, initial reports said.

Hundreds of people rushed out on the streets in the cramped capital with little open spaces, crying and taking the names of gods as the tremors started. There were scenes of people jumping down from upper storeys and sustaining injuries.

In two prisons in the capital – the Central Jail and Dillibazar Jail – some prisoners tried to escape and suffered broken arms and legs.

It was the biggest tremor to hit the quake-prone nation after 1990 when thousands of people were killed in Nepal and Bihar in India.

The chaos was compounded by heavy rains and a blackout. Telephone lines were hit and the dark roads were filled with the blare of ambulances.

There have been a series of warnings by international organisations that Nepal would be hit harder than Haiti if another killer quake struck due to its lack of readiness to cope with disaster.

The capital especially is chock-a-block with old decrepit buildings which are liable to collapse, adding to the crisis.

The disaster comes ahead of the former Hindu kingdom gearing up to celebrate its biggest festivals Dashain and Tihar starting next month.