Still unclear whether Israeli tourists are among casualties as Napal declares State of Emergency.
A 7.9 magnitude earthquake caused large-scale casualties in Nepal on Saturday, with the death toll currently at 1,170, according to police.
Hundreds more are feared trapped in the ruins, Nepalese Home Ministry said. The South Asian country has declared a state of emergency.
“Deaths have been reported from all regions except the far west. All our security personnel have been deployed to rescue and assist those in need,” national police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam told AFP.
The powerful caused massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighboring countries.
Television footage showed that large numbers of offices and homes had collapsed in Kathmandu while roads had been split in two by the force of the impact.
Panicked residents rushed into the streets as the tremor erupted around midday, with the impact felt hundreds of miles away in big swathes of northern India and even in Bangladesh.The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu at 0611 GMT, with walls crumbling and families racing outside of their homes.
Israel will send a plane to evacuated the Israeli tourists out of Nepal once Kathmandu’s airport renews flights, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Saturday.
The Foreign Ministry said it was operating an emergency situation room, trying to find out if there are any Israeli casualties.
“We are in contact with the embassy in Kathmandu and are trying to get more information about the earthquake, particularly for Israelis. We will update as soon as information becomes available,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachson said.
According to Israeli ambassador to Nepal, Yaron Meir, the building of the embassy in Kathmandu was also damaged in the quake but there were no injuries.
A landmark nine-story tower collapsed in Kathmandu, with at least 50 people trapped, witnesses and television footage showed.
Around a dozen bodies were taken away from the ruins of the Dharhara tower in the center of the capital which sustained massive damage when the quake struck at lunchtime, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.
“The walls of houses have collapsed around me onto the road. All the families are outside in their yards huddled together. The tremors are still going on,” an AFP reporter said in Kathmandu.
Another resident recounted scenes of panic and mayhem.
“Everything started shaking. Everything fell down. The walls around the main road have collapsed. The national stadiums gates have collapsed,” Kathmandu resident Anupa Shrestha said.
The quake caused damage to the country’s only international airport, in a potential blow to relief efforts.
The airport’s general manager, Birendra Prasad Shrestha, said it would remain closed “for safety reasons” at least until later in the afternoon.
“Our focus is on rescue in the core areas of Kathmandu where the population is concentrated,” Dinesh Acharya, metropolitan police spokesman, said.
“Many houses and buildings have collapsed. We don’t know if there have been fatalities yet,” he told AFP.
Climbers caught in earthquake on Everest
Initially measured at 7.5 magnitude, the quake was later adjusted to 7.9, with a depth of 15 kilometers, the USGS said. It hit 68 kilometers east of the tourist town of Pokhara.
An avalanche was also reported to have occurred on Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.
“Running for life from my tent. Unhurt. Many many people up the mountain,” tweeted Romanian climber Alex Gavan who had been preparing to climb up nearby Lhotse, the world’s fourth highest mountain.
Another climber Daniel Mazur said his team was trapped at camp one higher up the mountain in the wake of the earthquake.
“A Massive earthquake just hit Everest. Basecamp has been severely damaged. Our team is caught in camp 1. Please pray for everyone,” he also tweeted.
Some 700 climbers are in Solukhumbhu district that includes Everest, with 300 thought to be at base camp itself, deputy superintendent of police Chandra Dev Rai said.
“We are trying to reach them to see if they are safe, but the phones are not working,” he told AFP.
Tremors felt across region
Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi.
“We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home and in Nepal,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.
At least three people were known to have died in northern India while buildings in the capital New Delhi had to be evacuated.
Laxman Singh Rathore, director-general of the Indian Meteorological Department, told reporters that the impact had been felt across large areas of northern India.
“The intensity was felt in entire north India. More intense shocks were felt in eastern UP (Uttar Pradesh) and Bihar, equally strong in sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim,” he said.
Rathore that a second tremor of a 6.6 magnitude had been recorded around 20 minutes later and centered around the same region.
“Since it is a big earthquake, there are aftershocks and people should stay cautious,” he said.
“The damage potential of any earthquake above seven magnitude is high. The duration of the earthquake tremors was different at different places. It was around 50-55 seconds long in Delhi.”
The earthquake was also felt in Tibet and across large areas of Bangladesh, where two people were killed. In India 30 people reportedly died.
In the garment manufacturing hub of Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, at least 50 workers were injured after the quake set off stampede in a garment factory, according to private Jamuna television.
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