Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Last night, a new quake of magnitude 6.7 rocked Nepal again, bringing the death toll to more than 2,000 confirmed deaths and tens of thousands of injured.
The earthquake, which was centred on an area some 60 kilometres east of the capital Kathmandu, caused further panic in the population.
The death toll from the first earthquake is still tentative since it cut off communications with remote areas and made access to them difficult.
The Government of Nepal has declared a state of emergency and asked the international community for help and support in its rescue and relief efforts. India, China, Great Britain, United States and France have already dispatched help.
According to experts, the first quake, which occurred at 11:56 am (local time) yesterday, caused the worst damage.
The National Earthquake Centre issued an appeal to the population, telling them to seek shelter outdoor because of possible aftershocks.
According to the Centre, yesterday’s was the worst earthquake to strike Nepal since 1934. In that year, a huge quake killed some 8,500 people.
Dozens of Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries were hit. In the capital, the famous Pashupatinath temple of suffered serious damage.
The Krishna temple in Patan and the Durbar Squares near the royal palaces in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, were devastated.
Early reports indicate that most Christians, Catholics included, are safe, without any major damage. However, in Kathmandu, a Protestant church collapsed, killing at least 70 worshipers who were inside at the time of the quake.
Christians and Christian religious associations are praying for the victims and survivors, helping the authorities in rescue operations.
According to official reports, thousands of people are stranded in damaged buildings, and can be heard shouting for help. In many places, rescuers are forced to dig with bare hands to get to those who are still alive.
The earthquake struck 29 districts, in particular 11 of them. Kathmandu, Nuwakot, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Sindhuli, Dolakha, Ramechham, Gorkha and Dhading have reported the highest number of casualties. In the capital alone, more than 700 people have been reportedly killed.
Water and food are in short supply. Water mains are broken, electricity has been cut off, whilst phone services have disrupted.
Police have also reported some looting among abandoned homes.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Shushil Koirala – who was attending in Bandung, Indonesia, for the Asia Africa Conference – is on the way to return home.
Climbers on Mount Everest report serious damages and heavy avalanches. “At the base camp, at least 25 climbers were killed and dozens were injured,” said Uttam Parajuli, a mountaineering expert involved in arranging Mount Everest expedition. However, “full details have yet to be established.”