New Delhi: More than 1,300 people have died in a massive earthquake of 7.9 magnitude on the Richter scale which hit large parts of Nepal on Saturday, news agency Reuters said quoting the police. Major tremors were felt for nearly a minute across large swathes of Northern India including Delhi. Over 40 people have died in India, 32 in Bihar, eight in Uttar Pradesh, and three in West Bengal, where 40 children have also been injured after their school was damaged in Malda town.
This earthquake of magnitude 7.9 on the Richter scale was the worst to hit Nepal in 80 years.
It triggered an avalanche that has buried a part of the base camp for climbers bound for Mount Everest.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a high-level meeting in Delhi with ministers and top officials to assess the situation. After the meeting, the Prime Minister directed evacuation of tourists and immediate dispatch of relief and rescue teams to Nepal, as well as to affected areas in India.
He has appointed Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy to handle the aftermath in the states bordering Nepal.
Nepal's capital of Kathmandu has been left devastated with roads split open, and homes and iconic landmarks collapsed into rubble. There was little information coming from the outlying areas of the mountainous country and helicopters were circling overhead to get a sense of the damage.
A shallow quake like this morning's is usually more dangerous because the amount of energy released is focused over a smaller area.
The historic Dharahara Tower built in the 19th century in Kathmandu collapsed, trapping at least 200 people, Nepal police said. The tower had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor. Witnesses spoke of dead bodies being removed from the site.
Photographs from Kathmandu posted online showed buildings left in rubble, large cracks along roads and residents sitting in the street holding babies.
The US Geological Survey said the quake, initially measured at 7.7 but upgraded to 7.9 magnitude, struck 80 km east of Pokhara.
Indian Embassy in Nepal has set up helpline: +977-9851107021, +977-9851135141
The External Affairs Ministry too has opened a 24-hour control room: +91-11-23012113, +91-11-23014104, +91-11-23017905