Rescuers searching for survivors after Nepal earthquake which left at least 132 dead

Rescuers searching for survivors after Nepal earthquake which left at least 132 dead

At least 132 people died in an earthquake that shook a remote region of Nepal, where relief efforts are being organised to search for survivors.

The 5.6 magnitude earthquake was measured at a depth of 18 km according to the American Geological Survey USGS. It hit the far western Himalayan country late Friday evening. Its epicentre was located 42 km south of Jumla, not far from the border with Tibet.

“92 people died in Jajarkot and 40 in Rukum,” Interior Ministry spokesperson Narayan Prasad Bhattarai told AFP, citing the two districts at this stage most affected by the earthquake, located south of the epicentre in the border province of Karnali.

More than a hundred others were also injured in those two districts, Nepalese police say.

Security forces have been deployed to earthquake-hit areas to assist in relief operations, according to Karnali provincial police spokesperson Gopal Chandra Bhattarai.

“The isolation of the districts makes it difficult to transmit information,” he said, adding, “Some roads are blocked because of the damage, but we are trying to reach the area by other routes.”

Videos and photos posted on social media show residents digging through rubble in the dark to extract survivors from collapsed buildings.

Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal arrived in the affected area on Saturday after expressing "deep sadness over the human and physical damage caused by the earthquake."

“The government is determined to help the victims and treat the injured,” he said.

Moderate tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi in India - located nearly 500 km from the epicentre.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life in Nepal. “India stands in solidarity with the people of Nepal and is ready to provide them with all possible assistance,” he added.

Earthquakes are common in Nepal, which lies on a major geological fault where the Indian tectonic plate pushes into the Eurasian plate, forming the Himalayan range.

The tremor was followed several hours later by aftershocks of magnitude 4 in the same area, according to the USGS.

Nearly 9,000 people died in 2015 when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, destroying more than half a million homes and 8,000 schools.