More than 150 people are dead and hundreds more are injured after an earthquake struck Nepal early Saturday morning.
The temblor occurred around midnight local time in the western region of Karnali Province, located about 250 miles from the Nepalese capital city of Kathmandu. The shake registered as a magnitude-5.6 earthquake according to the U.S. Geological Survey. However, Nepal’s National Earthquake Monitoring and Research Center registered it significantly stronger at a magnitude of 6.4. A number of powerful aftershocks also struck the region throughout the early morning.
Hundreds of people were awakened by the earthquake, and many of them reportedly stayed up after the shaking was over out of fear that aftershocks were coming. Tremors “were also felt in India’s capital, New Delhi, hundreds of miles west,” The New York Times reported. “There was not a single house standing tall. Every house was damaged,” eyewitness Tapendra Rokaya told the Times.
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The exact death toll remains unclear, but Nepalese officials have confirmed that at least 150 people have died, with some news outlets putting the total beyond 160. What is clear, though, is that the death toll is expected to rise, partially because Nepal’s mountainous terrain is making rescue efforts difficult.
Nepalese media reports cited by USA Today said that many people died “after being crushed by debris when their homes crumbled.” The majority of homes in the region are built by stacking rocks and heavy logs on top of each other. Mudslides and debris also blocked the roads into many rural towns that are now cut off from aid. Rescue workers are working to access these areas using helicopters.
Nepal lies in a highly tectonic region, and earthquakes in the country remain very common. In 2015, a 7.8-magnitude temblor killed around 9,000 people and destroyed more than a million buildings.
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