Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The initial death toll from the powerful quake that struck Nepal yesterday is 65 dead and at least 2,650 injured. The epicenter struck Dolakha district, about 80 kilometers from the epicenter of the 25 April earthquake.
The Nepalese authorities and international agencies agree that yesterday’s quake was an aftershock, and not a new earthquake in its own right. However, the effective power of the tremor has not been established: the American Seismic Center speaks of an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale; the Nepalese government of 6.8.
Panic is spreading on the streets. Sarbadev Prasad Mahato, head of the mining, seismic and geological Department, declares: "The population is terrorized after the last shock produced so many deaths and injuries. We ask people to take every precaution, since we cannot predict whether there will be other earthquakes and how powerful they will be. For us this is an unusual situation, because usually [the aftershocks] are minor”.
According to the Nepalese police the number of victims of the earthquake yesterday is expected to rapidly grow. Police spokesman, Kamal Singh Bom, says: "At least 15 vehicles on the road at the time of the earthquake were involved in collisions. More than 500 buildings have collapsed; several landslides have swept away people and things. We are not yet able to reach all the affected areas, as in many areas it is impossible to re-establish connections by land".
The Council of Ministers of Nepal has called an emergency meeting to discuss a contingency plan to manage the immediate future. Prime Minister Shushil Koirala promised "every kind of support."
Some international rescue and recovery teams are still in the country to provide help. The Nepalese army, the main coordinator of operations, is flanked by the Indian Air Force and the US Air Force.
Meanwhile, this morning a US helicopter went missing in the district of Dolakha. On board were two American officers and a Nepalese captain on a mission to the area in search of survivors.
Fr. Pius, director of Caritas Nepal, emphasizes: "We have helped and supported victims of the first quake and continue according to our abilities and resources. We were focused on remote areas, but now we will focus on those most affected by the last earthquake”.
According to government figures, after yesterday’s shock the general toll of the victims from April 25 to date has already exceeded the 8 thousand deaths and 17 thousand injuries.