An earthquake rocked the western area of Jajarkot in Nepal, claiming the lives of at least 128 people and causing severe injuries to numerous people. The powerful tremor, which struck late on Friday, sent shockwaves as far as New Delhi, India.
The Nepal National Seismological Centre reported the earthquake’s magnitude as 6.4, while the German Research Centre for Geosciences downgraded it to 5.7, and the U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 5.6. The disaster marked the deadliest earthquake in Nepal since 2015, when approximately 9,000 lives were lost in two successive quakes, resulting in the devastation of historic sites, towns, and homes, with a staggering economic cost.
Officials said that the death toll from this recent earthquake might increase as they struggled to establish contact with the hilly region near the epicentre, located approximately 500 kilometres west of the capital, Kathmandu. The district of Jajarkot, where the tremors were strongly felt, is home to a population of 190,000, residing in remote hillside villages.
Jajarkot district official, Harish Chandra Sharma, said, “The number of injured could be in the hundreds, and the deaths could go up as well.”
Police spokesman Kuber Kadayat said that 92 people lost their lives in Jajarkot, with an additional 36 casualties in the neighbouring Rukum West district. Both areas are situated in Karnali province, and the epicentre was traced to the village of Ramidanda.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal travelled to the affected area, accompanied by a 16-member army medical team. His office announced that he would oversee search, rescue, and relief operations, expressing deep sorrow over the loss of life and property, and ordering security agencies to launch immediate response efforts.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, many buildings have collapsed, and countless others have developed cracks, forcing thousands of residents to spend the night in the open, fearing aftershocks. Search and rescue teams are working to clear roads blocked by landslides triggered by the quake.
(with Reuters inputs)