KATHMANDU: An earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude, and only 2 km deep, struck east of Pokhara in Nepal on Saturday causing buildings in the capital Kathmandu to collapse, injuring many and leaving a pall of dust over the city, witnesses said.
At least 449 people have been reportedly killed.
At the main hospital in Kathmandu, people with broken limbs and arms were being rushed in for treatment. It was unclear how many people have been injured.
A Reuters reporter in Kathmandu said he had seen some buildings collapse and walls of several houses reduced to rubble.
“Everyone is out in the streets, people are rushing to the hospital,” the reporter said.
Tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi and other northern cities in India.
The death toll in northern India rose to at least 11, with six killed in house collapses in Uttar Pradesh and five more dying in Bihar further east, according to government officials.
A police officer in the control room of neighboring Indian state of Bihar said the phone lines were jammed with callers from across the heavily populated state. “We don’t know about the casualties, we are flooded with calls.”
The quake also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, climbers said, raising fears for those on the world’s highest peak.
Nepal’s lack of disaster preparedness, the decrepit buildings packed cheek by jowl along the tiny lanes and the large families who live in these homes make the prospect of a major earthquake a serious concern.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was 7.7 magnitudes and struck only 31 km (19 miles) deep.