A 7.9 magnitude earthquake has hit Nepal, killing more than 3,200 people. The epicenter of the quake occurred 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu. Reports say it is the strongest earthquake for the area in 80 years.
According to Nepal’s Home Ministry, the powerful quake hit the country’s capital as well as the densely populated area of Kathmandu Valley around noon on Saturday. Kathmandu has a population of about 2.5 million.
A report from Sky News says that approximately 50 people are trapped under Kathmandu’s Dhararhara Tower, one of the city’s landmarks that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Numerous other cities were affected by the earthquake from northern India to Lhasa, Tibet and Lahore, Pakistan.
Prachanda Sual, resident of Old Kathmandu, said that part of the city is tightly packed with poorly constructed houses piled on top of one another.
Many of Kathmandu’s centuries-old iconic buildings toppled including towers and temples.
National radio telecasts are warning people to stay outside and to remain calm as additional aftershocks were expected. About one hour after the initial earthquake, an aftershock of 6.6 magnitude hit.
Thin mattresses have been laid outside in the parking lot of Kathmandu’s Norvic International Hospital where patients have been relocated. It has also become a makeshift place where doctors and nurses are treating the wounded.
US Geological Survey adjusted the initial magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 and said the earthquake struck at 11:56 a.m. local time at Lamjung.
Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, called a government meeting to review damage and create a disaster plan where the tremors were felt. The country’s states of Uttar, Pradesh, Sikkim, Bihar and northeast Assam reported building damage.