The second massive earthquake to hit Nepal in less than three weeks has killed 83 people, including 17 in India and one in Chinese Tibet, and injured nearly 2,000, with thousands staying outdoors as the country was jolted by dozens of aftershocks overnight.
Officials said the death toll in Nepal following Tuesday’s 7.3-magnitude temblor had risen to 65 by Wednesday morning. They put the number of wounded at 1,926.
Authorities said there was no news of the UH-1 helicopter of the US Marine Corps that went missing on Tuesday during a relief sortie. Six US Marines and two Nepal Army personnel were in the helicopter.
“We have sent helicopters on Wednesday morning to the area where the chopper was last reported flying. There is no news yet but we believe it could be near the epicenter of Tuesday's quake," said home ministry spokesperson Laxmi Prasad Dhakal.
With the fresh casualties, the total death toll in Nepal since the April 25 quake has crossed 8,200. The home ministry said 382 people had been reported as missing.
Aftershocks continued on Tuesday night and in the early hours of Wednesday, forcing people to stay outdoors. Eight houses were reportedly destroyed in the capital Kathmandu following Tuesday's quake.
Nepal's National Seismological Centre said 33 aftershocks of more than 4-magnitude were recorded since 12:50pm on Tuesday.
One of them, of 6.2-magnitude and with its epicenter at Dolakha, was recorded 21 minutes after the 7.3-magnitude quake. Another one, of 5.9-magnitude and with its epicenter at Dhading, occurred at 3.10am on Wednesday.
Fresh landslides after Tuesday's quake were reported from 38 districts and key highways were blocked in some areas. Authorities immediately launched operations to clear them.
Search and rescue and relief operations resumed on Wednesday morning. Helicopters of the Nepal Army, Indian Air Force and the US and Chinese military flew to affected areas with relief materials and brought back the injured.
Tuesday’s quake exacerbated the devastation caused less than three weeks ago by the devastating 7.8-magnitude temblor. The fresh quake had its epicentre 68 km west of the town of Namche Bazaar near Mount Everest. Tremors were felt in India all the way from the border states of Bihar and West Bengal to Gujarat and Delhi.
Seventeen people were killed in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Indian home ministry said in a statement. Chinese media reported one person died in Tibet after rocks fell on a car.
Tuesday’s quake flattened buildings in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal that were already weakened by the April 25 earthquake. The fresh tremors, which lasted nearly a minute, came just as residents of Kathmandu and other districts were picking up the pieces after last month’s quake that displaced millions.
Home ministry spokesperson Laxmi Dhakal said Sindhupalchok and Dolkha districts were hit the hardest. Nepal Police sent out tweets asking residents to clear roads for the movement of rescue workers. Police also asked people not to clog the mobile network with calls and to use text messages for sending information.
Operations at Kathmandu's Tribuvan International Airport were suspended and Nepal's parliament, which was in session when the quake struck, was adjourned.
"These are difficult times for Nepal, I appeal for all friends to help us and urge our citizens to stay strong," Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said.
Mountaineers seeking to scale the world's tallest peak called off this year's Everest season after 18 people died when last month's quake triggered avalanches.Dambar Parajuli, president of Expedition Operators' Association of Nepal, said there were no climbers or sherpa guides at the base camp when Tuesday’s quake struck.
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