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7.9 magnitude earthquake rattles Nepal 50 miles from capital, Kathmandu

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, collapsing houses, centuries-old temples and cutting open roads in the worst tremor in the Himalayan nation in over 80 years.Dozens of people with injuries were being brought to the main hospital in central Kathmandu. There was no immediate estimate on fatalities.Several buildings collapsed in the center of the capital, the ancient Old Kathmandu, including centuries-old temples and towers, said resident Prachanda Sual.He said he saw people running through the streets in panic. Ambulance sirens blared and government helicopters hovered overhead.National radio warned people to stay outdoors and maintain calm because more aftershocks were feared. A 6.6-magnitude aftershock hit about an hour after the initial quake.Old Kathmandu city is a warren of tightly packed, narrow lanes with poorly constructed homes piled on top of each other.Nepal’s Information Minister Minendra Rijal told India’s NDTV station that there are reports of damage in and around Kathmandu but no immediate word on casualties.He said rescue teams were on the scene.The epicenter was 80 kilometers (49 mile) northwest of Kathmandu, he said. The Kathmandu Valley is densely populated with nearly 2.5 million, with the quality of buildings often poor.An Associated Press reporter in Kathmandu said a wall in his compound collapsed and there was damage to nearby buildings.The U.S. Geological Survey revised the magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 and said the quake hit at 11:56 a.m. local time (0611 GMT) at Lamjung a shallow depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles).Mohammad Shahab, a resident from Lahore, Pakistan, said he was sitting in his office when the earthquake rocked the city near the border with India.He said the tremors continued for a while but now the situation was normal.The sustained quake also was felt in India’s capital of New Delhi. AP reporters in Indian cities of Lucknow in the north and Patna in the east also reported strong tremors.Nepal suffered its worst recorded earthquake in 1934, which measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

Worst tremor in Himalayan nation in more than 80 years brings down buildings and is felt in India and Pakistan, according to early reports

People search for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed building after an earthquake hit Nepal.
People search for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed building after an earthquake hit Nepal. Photograph: Narendra Shrestha/EPA

Nepal’s information minister, Minendra Rijal, told India’s NDTV station that there are reports of damage in and around Kathmandu but no immediate word on casualties. He said rescue teams were on the scene.

It is the worst tremor in the Himalayan nation in over 80 years.

An Associated Press reporter in Kathmandu said a wall in his compound collapsed and there was damage to nearby buildings.

A map released by the US Geological Survey showing the location of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake.

A map released by the US Geological Survey showing the location of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake. Photograph: USGS/EPA

The US Geological Survey revised the magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 and said the quake hit at 11:56 am local time at a relatively shallow depth of seven miles.Mohammad Shahab, a resident from Lahore, Pakistan, said he was sitting in his office when the earthquake rocked the city near the border with India.He said the tremors continued for a while but now the situation was normal. The sustained quake also was felt in India’s capital of New Delhi. AP reporters in Indian cities of Lucknow in the north and Patna in the east also reported strong tremors.The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, tweeted: “News has come in about an earthquake in Nepal. Several parts of India also experienced tremors.”

A photojournalist, who is in Pokhara 50 miles west of where the quake struck, told Sky News: “It was a pretty massive earthquake here, the strongest I’ve ever felt in my life.She said: “We’ve all gathered on a tennis court which is the only open space available to us close by. There is quite a lot of damage. The building I was in has quite a lot of cracks in it. There was a construction site right next to us and several of the new ways have fallen and there was an injury.”

A huge earthquake devastated Kathmandu 1934, and Nepal was again hit by a deadly quake in 2011, when at least five people died.

People free a man from the rubble of a destroyed building

People free a man from the rubble of a destroyed building after an earthquake hit Nepal, in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday, April 25, 2015.A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, collapsing houses, centuries-old temples and cutting open roads in the worst tremor in the Himalayan nation in over 80 years

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