KATHMANDU, Nov 4 (Reuters) – At least 128 people were killed and dozens injured in Nepal when a strong earthquake struck the Jajarkot region in the west of the country, officials said on Saturday, and houses collapsed in the area and buildings reached as far as neighboring New Delhi. India was shaken.
The National Seismological Center in Nepal said that the earthquake occurred at 11:47 pm (1802 GMT) on Friday, with a magnitude of 6.4. The German Research Center for Geosciences measured the earthquake’s strength at 5.7 degrees, downgrading it from 6.2 degrees, while the US Geological Survey estimated its strength at 5.6 degrees.
This earthquake is the deadliest since 2015, when about 9,000 people were killed in two earthquakes in the Himalayan country. Entire cities, centuries-old temples and other historical sites were reduced to rubble at that time, with more than a million homes destroyed, at a cost to the economy of $6 billion.
Officials fear the death toll from Friday’s earthquake may rise because they were unable to contact the mountainous area near the epicenter, about 500 kilometers west of the capital, Kathmandu, where residents also felt the tremors. The population of the region is 190,000 people, and its villages are spread in remote hills.
“The number of infected people may reach hundreds, and deaths may also rise,” Jajarkot district official Harish Chandra Sharma told Reuters by phone.
Police spokesman Cooper Kadiat said 92 people were killed in Jajarkot and 36 in the neighboring western Rukum district, both in Karnali province. The epicenter of the earthquake was in the village of Ramidanda.
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said at least 85 people were infected in Rukum West and 55 in Jajarkot, while Sharma said at least 50 people were in hospitals in Jajarkot alone.
“Many houses collapsed, and cracks appeared in many others. Thousands of residents spent the entire night in cold, open lands because they were too afraid to enter the cracked houses when the aftershocks occurred,” Sharma said. “I couldn’t get in myself.”
Police officer Namraj Bhattarai said search and rescue operations must clear roads blocked by landslides caused by the earthquake to reach the affected areas.
The Prime Minister flew to the area early Saturday with a 16-member military medical team to supervise search, rescue and relief operations, his office said.
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Footage published by local media showed dilapidated facades of multi-storey houses, with large pieces of furniture scattered. Videos on X showed people running into the street while some buildings were evacuated.
“Houses collapsed. People rushed out of their homes. I am in the middle of a crowd of terrified residents. We are trying to find details about the damage,” police official Santosh Roka said over the phone.
Reporting by Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu – Reporting by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin (Additional reporting by Aditya Kalra and Shivam Patel in New Delhi and Jnaneshwar Rajan and Jahnavi Nedumulu in Bengaluru) Editing by Sandra Maller, YP Rajesh and William Mallard
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