A new earthquake and several powerful aftershocks hit devastated Nepal on Tuesday, killing at least 24 people and sending terrified residents running into the streets of the traumatised capital.
The 7.3-magnitude quake struck at 12:35 pm, some 76 kilometres (47 miles) east of Kathmandu, the US Geological Survey said, more than two weeks after a 7.8-magnitude quake which killed more than 8,000 people.
Tuesday’s quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, and officials said it caused buildings to collapse in Tibet in neighbouring China.
A second tremor of 6.3-magnitude struck around half an hour later, followed by yet more aftershocks, according to the USGS.
At least 19 people were killed in Nepal, according to national police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam who put the number of injured at 679.
Four more were killed across the border in India, according to officials, while Chinese state media said one person was killed in Tibet.
The ground swayed for close to a minute from the first of Tuesday’s tremors, according to an AFP correspondent in Kathmandu.
“We felt it and suddenly there were huge crowds running up and down,” said resident Suresh Sharma, who was in a vegetable market at the time.
“It was very scary and very difficult to make my way out,” said 63-year-old.
“The last time we had the big quake I ran out of my house and barely escaped. This one felt just like that one. I can’t believe it’s happening again.”
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has a number of teams on the ground in the wake of the April 25 quake, said four people were crushed to death when buildings collapsed in Chautara, east of Kathmandu.
Police said at least three people had been killed in the Kathmandu Valley while more than 300 people had been injured in the city itself.
The impact was also felt in China and India where officials reported four people dead in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Shaking went on and on
Rose Foley, working in Kathmandu for the UN’s children’s fund UNICEF, said staff dived under tables.
“The shaking seemed to go on and on. We got out to safety as soon as possible. Sitting out in the open it felt like I was on a boat on rough seas as aftershocks hit,” she said by email.
Although the latest quake did not appear to be as severe as the April 25 one, residents were terrified that buildings that were already badly damaged could come crashing down.
“I was thinking of moving to a rented room, but today was so scary I can’t risk my family’s life,” Dipak Koirala, who has been living under a tent since April 25, said by phone from central Ramechhap district.
“We will continue to stay in the tent but it’s wet here and the rain came into the tent, which we are sharing with 24 people.”
Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, the main entry point for flights bringing in aid, was briefly closed again Tuesday as a precaution but reopened after a couple of hours.
Whole villages were destroyed in the April 25 quake while large parts of Kathmandu were destroyed, leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Relief teams from around the world are still working to provide water, food and medical assistance to Nepalis.
Patients wheeled out of hospital
On Tuesday at the main hospital in Kathmandu, patients hurt in last month’s quake were brought out in wheelchairs to avoid further injury.
People could be seen frantically calling their families as medical attendants rushed to set up tents in the car park.
The capital was filled with the sound of car horns as desperate residents rushed to get back home to check on loved ones.
Pramita Tamrakar, who had only just reopened her family’s furniture store, said she had rushed out onto the street after grabbing her eight-year-old son and 12 year-old daughter.
“I don’t understand what is going on,” she told AFP.
“I saw in the news the day before yesterday that the risk was lower, it wouldn’t happen again… and today we had a big one. I am very scared. My children are also very scared.”
Nepalese police urged people to stay outside and avoid jamming the fragile cellphone network.
The quake was also felt some 1,000 kilometres away in the Indian capital where buildings shook and workers evacuated offices.
Other cities in northern India were also rocked, including Bihar where television footage showed goods toppled over in shop windows.
A Chinese official at the Tibet regional seismological bureau said there had been reports that houses damaged on April 25 had now collapsed.
While nearly all of those killed by the April 25 quake were in Nepal, around 100 victims also died in India and China.
Source: Prothom Alo