Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

Powerful quake hits devastated Nepal

Weeks after a quake killed more than 8,000 people in Nepal, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit close to Mount Everest

Another strong earthquake shook Nepal on Tuesday, killing at least 42 people and sending people in the capital Kathmandu rushing out on to the streets weeks after a devastating quake killed more than 8,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, eyewitnesses said.

Alongside the dead in Nepal, at least 14 people are believed to have died in India. Also, six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese soldiers are feared dead after a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter went missing on Tuesday while conducting relief efforts in earthquake-hit areas of Nepal, U.S. Pacific Command said.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially said the quake had a magnitude of 7.1, then upgraded it to 7.3 magnitude. The quake struck in an isolated area 42 miles west of the town of Namche Bazaar, close to Mount Everest at a depth of almost 12 miles.

It was followed closely by at least five aftershocks — measuring from magnitude 5.6 to 6.3. 

An early toll of casualties stood at 42 people killed in Nepal, with 1,117 injured.

Indian Embassy spokesman Abhay Kumar said some buildings in Kathmandu collapsed, but he gave no further details about how many or where they were.

“The shaking seemed to go on and on,” said Rose Foley, a UNICEF official based in Kathmandu. “It felt like being on a boat in rough seas.”

The international airport in Kathmandu, which has become a transport hub for international aid, was closed temporarily, while traffic snarled the streets of Kathmandu.

A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said four people were killed Tuesday in Chautara, where several buildings were destroyed.

“The situation in Chautara is that several buildings in the town have collapsed,” said IOM spokesman Paul Dillon “There are four fatalities.”

In India, Vyasji, the head of the disaster management department of Bihar state, who uses one name, said a man died when a house collapsed in Siwan district. Another death occurred in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state while two people were injured, according to Debashish Panda, principal home secretary of the state.

The IOM, an intergovernmental group, had deployed a team to Chautara after the April 25 earthquake. Chautara, the capital of Sindhupalchowk district, suffered the heaviest death toll last month and has become a hub of for humanitarian relief efforts. 

Aid agencies were 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.

I thought I was going to die this time. "Things were just getting back to normal, and we get this one.

Sulav Singh

Kathmandu resident

Residents in the Indian town of Siliguri, near the border with Nepal, said chunks of concrete fell off one or two buildings.

People in Kathmandu rushed outdoors on Tuesday. Shopkeepers closed their shops. 

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 in Kathmandu, 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."

A woman who works for a finance company in Thamel, in Kathmandu, said that she had clung on to a pillar inside her building when the quake struck.

"I was screaming. It felt like the house was falling," she said.

"This is a really big one," said Prakash Shilpakar, the owner of a handicrafts shop in Kathmandu who was trying to call his parents in the town of Bhaktapur, devastated in the April 25 quake.

Tuesday's quake was deeper than the one that struck on April 25, however, coming from a depth of 11.5 miles versus the previous quake that hit 9.3 miles. More shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage at the surface.

Shockwaves were felt across northern India and as far away as the capital New Delhi, where buildings swayed for more than a minute and people scurried into the streets.

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."

Many Nepalis have been sleeping in the open since the 7.8 magnitude quake, with survivors afraid to return to their homes because of powerful aftershocks. According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

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.

Aid has been slowly reaching remote towns and villages nestled in the Himalayan mountains and foothills of the impoverished nation. Government officials said efforts to step up the pace of delivery were frustrated by a shortage of supply trucks and drivers, many of whom had returned to their villages to help their families.

The epicenter of the quake on Tuesday was close to Everest Base Camp, which was evacuated after an avalanche triggered by the April 25 quake killed 18 climbers. Mountaineers seeking to scale the world's tallest peak have called off this year's Everest season.

Wire services

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