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Nepal Earthquake update

The official death toll is now at 2,500 and 5000 serious injuries, unofficially estimates are that the number of fatalities will climb to 10,000 when outlying areas are reached. Rescuers are searching frantically for survivors of the huge 7.9 quake which was followed by many aftershocks some as large as 6.6.

Airlifts are taking victims of an avalanche at Everest base camp to Kathmandu, 17 climbers are known to have died, and there are still people missing on the mountain.

Terrified residents of Kathmandu are forced to spend the night trying to sleep out on the streets and open ground in makeshift tents as aftershocks make it unsafe to move inside. Although the daytime temperature is 25C, overnight it gets down to 5C.

Weather forecasters warned that rain was on the way, with dark clouds looming over Kathmandu that promised more misery for the displaced survivors.

The historic nine-storey Dharahara tower, a major tourist attraction, was among the buildings brought down, with at least a dozen bodies taken away from the ruins of the 19th century tower.

Offers of help poured in from governments around the world, with the United States, European Union and Australia announcing they were sending in disaster response teams.

Chinese state media said 17 people had also been killed in Tibet as Beijing sent a team of 62 rescuers, accompanied by sniffer dogs, to help the hard-pressed emergency workers in Nepal. At least 49 people have died in neighbouring India. India flew out its stranded citizens in military planes.

The county’s mobile phone network was working only sporadically, while large parts of the capital were without electricity.

As rescuers sifted through the huge mounds of rubble, the hospitals were overflowing with victims who suffered multiple fractures and trauma. Medics were working out of a tent set up in a parking lot because of overflowing patients, while some patients were too scared to stay in the building.

The earthquake is Nepal’s worst since a magnitude-8.3 quake struck the impoverished Himalayan nation in 1934, killing over 8,500 people, this earthquake was more destructive because it was shallower, toppling buildings, opening gaping cracks in roads and sending people scurrying into the open as aftershocks rattled their damaged homes.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude-7.9 quake struck 77 kilometres north-west of Kathmandu at lunchtime (local time), with walls crumbling and families racing outside their homes.

Image courtesy of Krish Dulal

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