Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal/AFP
This handout photo provided by the Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal shows the earthquake-affected area in northwest Nepal, Saturday, November 4, 2023.
At least 157 people were killed in an earthquake that struck a remote area in northwestern Nepal on Friday night, causing several buildings to fall, according to police, while officials warned that the death toll could rise.
The quake had a magnitude of 5.6 according to the US Geological Survey (USGS) and struck about 42 kilometers (about 26 miles) from Jumla, Nepal, in Karnali province. The earthquake occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 18 kilometers, and tremors could be felt as far away as the Indian capital, New Delhi.
“We are only focusing on the search and rescue operation at the moment,” Nepalese police spokesman Kuber Kadiat told CNN on Saturday. “That is why we do not yet have a proper estimate of the collapsed and damaged houses and other infrastructure. There are some villages where an estimated 90% of the houses have collapsed.”
According to Qadiyat, so far 157 people have been confirmed dead and 170 others injured, making Friday’s earthquake the deadliest since 2015.
In the Jajarkot area, close to the epicenter, 105 people were confirmed dead and 55 others were injured. In the nearby western Rukum region, 52 people were killed and 85 others were injured, Qadiyat said.
Footage from Reuters showed several houses reduced to piles of bricks and timber in Jajarkot.
Army personnel carry an injured person on a stretcher after an earthquake in Jajarkot, Nepal, on November 4, 2023.
Earthquakes are common in Nepal, where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet to form the towering Himalayan mountain range.
At least 9,000 people were killed in 2015 when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck, damaging about 1 million homes and buildings across the country and causing $6 billion in damage.
Officials told Reuters that they feared a rise in the number of casualties in Friday’s earthquake because they were unable to contact the mountainous area near the epicenter, about 500 kilometers west of the capital, Kathmandu, where people also felt the tremors.
“The number of infected people may reach hundreds, and deaths may also rise,” Jajarkot district official Harish Chandra Sharma told Reuters by phone.
“Many houses have collapsed, and cracks have appeared in many others. Thousands of residents spent the entire night in cold, open areas because they were too afraid to go into the cracked houses when the aftershocks occurred,” Sharma added.
The population of Jajarkot district is 190,000 people, and its villages are spread in remote hills. Pictures published by Agence France-Presse showed survivors gathering at the main hospital in Jajarkot.
Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal/Handout/Reuters
Damaged building after an earthquake in Jajarkot, Nepal, November 4, 2023
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the loved ones of the earthquake victims.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and damage caused by the earthquake that struck Nepal,” Modi wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “India stands in solidarity with the people of Nepal and is ready to provide all possible assistance. Our thoughts are with the bereaved families and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”
This is a developing story and will be updated
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