Dozens killed after magnitude-7.3 earthquake strikes Nepal

Search and rescue efforts underway following major 7.3 magnitude earthquake


At least 37 people were killed Tuesday after a major earthquake struck Nepal, triggering landslides and toppling buildings less than three weeks after the Himalayan nation was ravaged by its worst quake in decades.

Tuesday's magnitude-7.3 earthquake was centered near the Chinese border between Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, and Mt. Everest. It was followed closely by at least five aftershocks measuring from magnitude-5.6 to magnitude-6.3.

Nepal's Home Ministry reported at least 42 deaths but later lowered the toll to 37. Meanwhile, it said at least 1,139 people had been injured in Nepal. In neighboring India, at least 16 people were confirmed dead after rooftops or walls collapsed onto them, according to India's Home Ministry. Chinese media reported one death in Tibet.

An official with the International Organization for Migration told the Associated Press a number of buildings collapsed in the isolated town of Chautara in central Nepal after the earthquake, killing at least 4 people.

Information was slow to reach the capital, Kathmandu, but officials and aid workers said they expected the death toll to almost certainly rise.

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IOM spokesman Paul Dillon said a search and rescue team had already begun searching through the wreckage of Chautara. Norway's Red Cross, which was helping people at a 60-bed hospital, said on Twitter in Norwegian that there were "many injured, several killed" and added that their hospital tents have already received patients.

Chautara has become a hub for humanitarian aid in the wake of the devastating April 25 earthquake, which killed more than 8,150 people and injured more than 17,860. Dozens of aid workers are now based there to send help deeper into the countryside.

In Kathmandu, the quake sent people rushing outside of their homes and into the streets. The international airport which has become a transport hub for international aid, was closed temporarily, while traffic snarled in the streets.

"The shaking seemed to go on and on," Rose Foley, a UNICEF official based in Kathmandu, told The Associated Press. "It felt like being on a boat in rough seas."

Indian Embassy spokesman Abhay Kumar said some buildings in Kathmandu collapsed, but he gave no further details about how many or where they were. Experts say the April 25 quake caused extensive structural damage even in buildings that did not topple, and that many could be in danger of future collapse.

Rasmus Baastrup, a Dane from Doctors Without Borders, said in a live interview with Denmark's TV2 channel "I walked out quickly. I couldn't run because the earth was shaking so much that it was impossible to run." Baastrup, speaking from Kathmandu, said he had been told that all staff with Doctors Without Borders were alive but was not more specific.

At the Norvic Hospital, patients and doctors rushed to the parking lot.

"I thought I was going to die this time," said Sulav Singh, who rushed with his daughter into the street in the suburban neighborhood of Thapathali. "Things were just getting back to normal, and we get this one."

Dillon said he saw a man in Kathmandu who had apparently run from the shower with shampoo covering his head.

"He was sitting on the ground, crying," Dillon said.

Aid agencies were still struggling Tuesday afternoon to get reports from outside of the capital.

"We're thinking about children across the country, and who are already suffering. This could make them even more vulnerable," Foley said.

Tuesday's earthquake was deeper that the April 25 quake, coming from a depth of 11.5 miles versus the April 25 tremor, which struck 9.3 miles below the surface. More shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage at the surface.

Residents of the small town of Namche Bazaar, about 35 miles from the epicenter of the latest quake and a well-known spot for high-altitude trekkers, said a couple of buildings damaged in the earlier earthquake collapsed Tuesday. However, there were no reports of deaths or injuries in the town.

Meanwhile, new landslides blocked mountain roads in the district of Gorkha, one of the most damaged regions after the April 25 quake.

"People are terribly scared. Everyone ran out in the streets because they are afraid of being inside the houses," Norwegian Red Cross Secretary-General Asne Havnelid told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Strong shaking was also felt across northern India. In the Indian capital of New Delhi, people scrambled outdoors while buildings swayed.

Across the Nepalese border in Tibet's Jilong and Zhangmu regions, the Earth shook strongly. Tremors were also felt slightly in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

"Rocks fell from the mountains," Jilong county government vice chief Wang Wenxiang was quoted as saying by China News Service. "There might be some houses collapsed or damaged. We are now checking on the condition of the people."

Nepalese have been terrified by dozens of aftershocks that hit the country in the days following the April 25 quake. Meanwhile, the impoverished country has appealed for billions of dollars in aid from foreign nations, as well as medical experts to treat the wounded and helicopters to ferry food and temporary shelters to hundreds of thousands left homeless amid unseasonal rains and unreachable with landslides blocking many mountain roads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.