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Sunday, April 26, 2015, 10:14

Aid starts coming to Nepal after quake kills nearly 2,000

By Agencies
Aid starts coming to Nepal after quake kills nearly 2,000
A Nepalese man and woman hold each other in Kathmandu's Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was severely damaged by an earthquake on April 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA)

Tens of thousands of Nepalese who spent the night under a chilly sky were jolted awake by strong aftershocks Sunday, and rescuers aided by international teams cleared rubble in search of survivors after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 2,000 people.

The toll is expected to climb as more reports come in from far-flung areas, said Home Ministry official Laxmi Dhakal. Among the dead are 17 who were struck by a quake-triggered avalanche on Mount Everest that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers at the end of the climbing season.

Saturday's magnitude 7.9 earthquake, which originated outside the capital Kathmandu, was the worst to hit the poor South Asian nation in over 80 years. It destroyed the old, historic part of Kathmandu, and was strong enough to be felt all across the northern part of neighboring India, Bangladesh, China's region of Tibet and Pakistan, where a total of 60 people died. 

The government planned to pitch tents and turn schools and other public buildings into shelters, said Rameshwor Dangal, a home ministry official. It would also re-open roads and send helicopters to rescue people.

At least 300 had been killed in the capital, a city of about 1 million people where homes are often old, flimsy and packed close together.

PEOPLE STILL TRAPPED

The earthquake, centred 50 miles (80 km) east of the second city, Pokhara, was all the more destructive for being shallow.

Rescue operations had still not begun in some remote areas.

Aid starts coming to Nepal after quake kills nearly 2,000
People free a man from the rubble of a destroyed building after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 25, 2015. (Photo/IC)

Among the capital's landmarks destroyed in the earthquake was the 60-metre-high (100-foot) Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal, with a viewing balcony that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years.

A jagged stump 10 metres high was all that was left of the lighthouse-like structure. As bodies were pulled from the ruins, a policeman said up to 200 people had been trapped inside.

Across the city, rescuers scrabbled through destroyed buildings, among them ancient, wooden Hindu temples.

Neighbouring India, where 44 people were reported killed in the quake and its aftershocks, sent military aircraft to Nepal with medical equipment and relief teams. It also said it had dispatched 285 members of its National Disaster Response Force.

In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China's state news agency, Xinhua.

International aid groups readied staff to go to Nepal to help provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food, while the United States, Britain and Pakistan were among countries providing search-and-rescue experts.

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