Tens of thousands of people in Nepal are now homeless after a massive earthquake rocked the country today, flattening historic sections of Kathmandu and killing more than 1,300 people across four countries in the Himalayan region.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake leveled buildings mostly in the historic section of Kathmandu, including the landmark nine-story Dharahara Tower, which was reduced to rubble with many people still inside. The tower, built in 1832, is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city and one of the most prominent buildings destroyed by Saturday's earthquake. As many as 250 people are thought to have been inside when the quake hit, according to Al Jazeera.
Images of the aftermath posted on social media showed the extent of the destruction across Kathmandu and people attempting to dig through the rubble of collapsed buildings to rescue others. Soon after the quake struck, residents in the capital rushed out into open areas in streets where it was safer away from buildings.
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Utter devastation. Locals pitch in to clear rubble, search for survivors. — Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue)April 25, 2015
Riding through Kathmandu. Thousands remain on the streets. Safer in open. Wires & buildings down — Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue)April 25, 2015
A photographer, Kashish Das Shrestha, described the scene in Kathmandu to the New York Times. "Everywhere there are people on the streets, people crying, people stuck in rubble, people trying to help," he said.
The quake hit between Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, and the city of Pokhara, but its shocks were felt as far away as the Pakistani city of Lahore and in New Delhi, India.
Truly awful sight. Kathmandu's Darbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in ruins after today's earthquake. — Raghu Karnad (@rkarnad)April 25, 2015
Security camera footage from local resident Kishor Rana captured the moment the quake hit and the violent aftershocks.
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Nepal sits atop the intersection of tectonic plates, making it susceptible to seismic activity, though the New York Times reported that Saturday's earthquake was the worst to hit the country in more than 80 years.
Nepalese officials confirmed to Reuters that more than 1,300 people were killed in the earthquake, including 36 in India, 12 in Tibet, and four others in Bangladesh. At least 1,341 were killed in Nepal alone, most of which were in the Kathmandu Valley. Officials expect the death toll to rise as more bodies are pulled from collapsed buildings.
Shortly after the earthquake hit, India began sending planes filled with relief supplies to Nepal, which is a poor country with limited resources to respond to this type of emergency disaster. Hospitals have quickly filled up and thousands are preparing to sleep outside tonight in makeshift tents.
A local resident who lives near the epicenter of the quake described the aftermath to the AP. "Our village has been almost wiped out. Most of the houses are either buried by landslide or damaged by shaking," said Vim Tamang. "All the villagers have gathered in the open area. We don't know what to do. We are feeling helpless."
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Returning sherpas, 'it's bad', won't say anything else, kept walking down. — David Arvan (@threadalist)April 25, 2015
The quake also triggered an avalanche on a Mount Everest base camp, killing at least eight people and leaving an unknown number missing. It was not immediately clear what nationalities the victims were, or how many more people might have been killed.
Nima Namgyal Sherpa, a local guide for hikers on Mount Everest, posted a description of the earthquake on his Facebook page saying, "Many camps have been destroyed by the shake and wind from the avalanche. All the doctors here are doing our best to treat and save lives."
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