Earthquake strikes Nepal, hundreds dead, history crumbled
A powerful earthquake struck at 11.56 am today suspected to be killing hundreds and injuring thousands across the country.
The quake epicentered at some 80-km northwest of Kathmandu had a depth of only 11-km, which is considered shallow in geological terms. The shallower the quake the more destructive power it carries and it is said that the trembling and swaying of the earth went on for almost two minutes.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake violently shook earth collapsing houses, leveling centuries-old temples and historical monuments at world heritage sites, and cutting open roads. The worst tremor to hit Nepal in over 82 years has brought down the centuries old temples in world heritage sites in all the three cities – Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur Durbar Square – in the valley, apart from nine-storey Bhimsen Tower. The historic tower –Dharahara – one of Kathmandu's landmarks built by the then prime minister Bhimsen Thapa as a watchtower in the 1800s. A UNESCO-recognised historical monument, Dharahara has been reduced to rubble in minutes and it is suspected that over hundred people are trapped underneath. Due to a holiday, there was a long queue of people to go up to the viewing platform on the eighth story. Bhimsen Tower collapsed followed by the centuries old temples in world heritage sites with clouds of dust swirling all around the city.
The Gorkha-centred earthquake – though expected – has hit the densely populated Kathmandu valley harder than it has been expected as the people are seen running out of the houses and buildings to the open. It is said some one dozen districts have been hit hard by the devastating earthequake.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake is said to be spreading in all directions – from north toward the Himalayas and Tibet, south to the Indo-Gangetic plains, east toward the Brahmaputra delta of Bangladesh and to west toward the Lahore in Pakistan. The US Geological Survey revised the magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 but then lowered it to 7.8.
The second worst earthquake to hit Nepal after 1934 has also hit India, China, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Apart from Nepal, some more people are said to be killed in India, Tibet and Bangladesh, according to the police sources. Two Chinese citizens also died at the Nepal-China border. "Given the scale of the destruction, the death toll is going to rise," according to the Home Ministry.
An hour later, another 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit back followed by smaller aftershocks that continue to jolt the nation for hours. The injured were rushed to hospitals. Tribhuvan International Airport has been shut down immediately after the earthquake.