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Saturday, April 25, 2015, 19:50

Chinese among over 1,000 dead in Nepal quake

By Agencies

Chinese among over 1,000 dead in Nepal quake
Volunteers help with rescue work at the site of a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 25, 2015. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A 7.9 magnitude strong earthquake hit near Nepal's capital of Kathmandu before noon Saturday, causing heavy damage and casualties.

The death toll in Nepal has risen to 1,130, a police spokesman said, according to Reuters. Of the total, 634 were reported dead in the Kathmandu Valley and at least 300 more in the capital.

At least 17 Chinese have died in the earthquake, including 4 in Nepal and 13 local residents in the territory of China. Many others were injured and under treatment.

The tremor caused extensive damage, with various buildings, including the walls surrounding Nepal's royal palace collapsing.

The epicenter was 80 kilometers (49 mile) northwest of Kathmandu, he said. The Kathmandu Valley is densely populated with nearly 2.5 million, with the quality of buildings often poor.

The US Geological Survey revised the magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 and said the quake hit at 11:56 am local time (0611 GMT).

The Nepali government has declared a state of emergency in the affected districts. Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam has appealed for international humanitarian assistance. Airport in Kathmandu has been shut down.

A group of Chinese international rescue team will be sent to Nepal for humanitarian aid, according to the People's Liberation Army Daily. The group includes 40 rescuers and six sniffer dogs.

Historic tower collapses

A historic tower built in the 19th century collapsed in the Nepali capital Kathmandu following the severe earthquake and at least one body was removed as police cordoned off the area, a Reuters witness said.

The Dharara Tower, built in 1832, was a historic landmark that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor.

One body was removed from the tower and a second lay further up the road, the witness said. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the multi-storey tower when it collapsed.

Avalanche triggered

The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Qomolangma, burying parts of the Qomolangma base camp and causing at least eight deaths.

Leader of Chinese Women's Mountaineering Team, Ma Liyamu, who was reported to have lost contact, is now in touch. She was injured in the avalanche triggered by the earthquake.

Ma and her team have not yet come back to the base camp from Mountain Qomolangma, also known as Everest in the West.

Romanian climber Alex Gavan said on Twitter that there had been a "huge avalanche" and "many, many" people were up on the mountain.

Another climber, Daniel Mazur, said Qomolangma base camp had been "severely damaged" and his team was trapped."Please pray for everyone," he said on his Twitter page.

An avalanche in April 2014 just above the base camp on Mount Qomolangma killed 16 Nepali guides. April is one of the most popular times to climb Qomolangma before rain and clouds cloak the mountain at the end of next mon

Strongest in 81 years

The quake is the strongest to hit the country in 81 years. It is the fifth land-based quake in the 21st century to measure eight magnitude or above. Among the last four major earthquakes, two happened in China and two in Chile.

Casualties were also reported in China's Tibet autonomous region, India and Bangladesh.

At least five people were confirmed to have died in Gyirong county, Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region by 3: 30 pm.

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