As many as 500 people were killed in a major earthquake that rocked Nepal on Saturday, a Nepalese official said here. Buildings collapsed, roads cracked and phone lines snapped as the earth trembled.
The earthquake measured a staggering 7.9 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre at Nepal’s Lamjung district some 75 km northwest of capital Kathmandu. There were six strong aftershocks. Over 150 were killed in the devastation, according to Nepal’s ministry of home affairs, while six people died in India.
The Kathmandu airport was shut, triggering cancellation of flights from India to Kathmandu. An Indigo flight had to return to Delhi. Unconfirmed reports said avalanches on Mount Everest were triggered by the earthquake. Several mountaineers were unaccounted for, although the defence ministry in India said that a team of army climbers from India were safe, and have been asked to help in rescue operations.
People scurried out of their homes and offices, with prayers on their lips, as the quake struck at 11.41 a.m. India time.
A number of old buidings, including the Dharahara – a nine-storeyed 19th-century tower – in Kathmandu, collapsed. There was also damage to the walls surrounding Nepal’s royal palace.