The Irrawaddy

4 Killed, Buildings Collapse in Fresh Nepal Earthquake

A boy affected by the Apr. 25 Nepalese earthquake sits next to collapsed houses on the outskirts of Kathmandu. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters)

KATHMANDU — At least four people were killed in a central Nepal town on Tuesday after a 7.3 earthquake shook the Himalayan nation, just weeks after a devastating temblor killed more than 8,000 people and damaged hundreds of thousands of buildings.

The four people died in Chautara in Sindhupalchowk district, north of the capital Kathmandu, after several buildings collapsed, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration said.

Separately, a district official there said 12 people had been injured in Sindhupalchowk, which suffered the heaviest death toll in last month’s quake. The new temblor also triggered at least three big landslides in the district.

“The latest earthquake has left us shaken. I am still trembling,” said the official, Diwakar Koirala.

The US Geological Survey said Tuesday’s earthquake was centred 68 kilometers (about 42 miles) west of the town of Namche Bazar, close to Mount Everest and the border with Tibet. A magnitude 7.3 quake, it was felt as far apart as New Delhi and Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Residents in the Indian town of Siliguri, near the border with Nepal, said chunks of concrete fell off one or two buildings.

People in Kathmandu, panic-stricken after the April 25 quake, rushed outdoors, Reuters reporters said.

Parents could be seen clutching children tightly and hundreds of people were frantically trying to call relatives on their mobile phones. Shopkeepers closed their shops and the streets were jammed with people rushing to check on their families.

“I’m heading straight home,” said Bishal Rai, a man in his 20s, who said he was trying to contact his family in the north of the capital.

The quake’s epicentre was close to Everest Base Camp, which was evacuated after an avalanche triggered by last month’s quake killed 18 climbers. Mountaineers seeking to scale the world’s tallest peak have called off this year’s Everest season.

Last month’s quake killed at least 8,046 people and injured more than 17,800. It was recorded at 7.8 magnitude, almost six times stronger than Tuesday’s quake.

But a 7.3 magnitude earthquake has the potential to cause significant damage and landslides.

The Nepal government was scrambling on Tuesday to assess the damage as the phone network got affected and information was hard to come by.

“We are getting messages that many people have vacated their houses and the temporary shelters,” said Ram Prasad Sharma, a home ministry official in Kathmandu. “This is only information we have now.”