143 Killed As Strong Earthquake Jolts Nepal’s Mountainous Western Region

KATHMANDU, Nov 4: At least 143 people were killed and over 150 others injured when a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake, the worst since 2015, struck Nepal and destroyed hundreds of houses in the Himalayan country’s remote mountainous region, officials said Saturday.
According to the National Earthquake Monitoring and Research Centre, the earthquake with an epicentre in Jajarkot district, about 500km west of Kathmandu, was recorded at 11:47 pm on Friday.
Friday’s earthquake is the most devastating one in the country since the 2015 earthquake that killed around 9,000 people in the country and injured more than 22,000 people.
The impact of the quake was felt in Kathmandu and surrounding districts, and even in New Delhi in neighbouring India.
The Nepal Army mobilised its personnel Friday soon after the earthquake to carry out rescue works at the incident site, according to Nepal Army spokesperson Krishna Prasad Bhandari.
Rescue workers on Saturday dug through the rubble of collapsed houses to find survivors.
The Jajarkot and Rukum districts of western Nepal were worst hit by the quake, according to state-run Nepal Television.
The number of those killed in Jajarkot and Rukum due to the earthquake has climbed to 140, according to the Prime Minister’s secretariat.
Over 150 people were injured in the incident. The death toll is expected to rise.
Deputy Mayor Sarita Singh of Nalgadh Municipality in Jajarkot was among those killed in the quake, officials said.
Around 159 aftershocks have been recorded following last night’s earthquake, the National Earthquake Monitoring and Research Centre reported.
Many people spent the night in the open because of fear of further quakes and damage to their houses. People were seen digging through the rubble in the dark to rescue trapped people from the remains of collapsed buildings, according to posts on social media.
Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on Saturday toured the quake-hit region with a medical team Saturday morning.
During the visit, he gathered information about the extent of the damage and inspected the affected areas alongside the Chief District Officer. Later, he returned to Surkhet from Jajarkot, along with seven injured people and their family members.
Dahal is scheduled to return to the capital by a regular flight, leaving the helicopter of the Nepali Army in which he initially travelled, for rescue operations.
Both Nepal Army and Nepal Police personnel have been mobilised to carry out rescue work, officials said.
“Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has expressed his deep sorrow over the loss of lives and property in the earthquake on Friday night and has mobilised all the three security bodies for the immediate rescue and relief,” reads a post from the prime minister’s office on X.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was deeply saddened by the loss of lives and damage due to the earthquake in Nepal.
“India stands in solidarity with the people of Nepal and is ready to extend all possible assistance. Our thoughts are with the bereaved families and we wish the injured a quick recovery,” Modi posted on X tagging his counterpart Prachanda.
Injured people are undergoing treatment at the Surkhet District Hospital, officials said. Prime Minister Prachanda has instructed security agencies to immediately carry out rescue and relief works.
President Ramchandra Paudel has expressed sadness over the loss of human lives and property in the earthquake.
According to the Office of the President, he has appealed to the government and all concerned to ensure effective rescue and relief work in the quake-affected areas.
As the roads were blocked and bridges damaged, rescue and relief works on the incident site have been obstructed, according to officials.
The government has authorised the immediate disbursement of Rs 100 million to aid the earthquake victims.
Additionally, the Home Ministry decided to allocate Rs 5.5 million to the disaster relief funds of both the Jajarkot and Rukum West districts, aiming to support the rescue and relief operations for the affected individuals.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has dispatched initial relief supplies via the Nepali Army’s helicopters.
The Nepali Congress party has also announced Rs5 million in financial support to the government to help in the search, rescue, and rehabilitation efforts.
Minister for Health and Population, Mohan Bahadur Basnet, has said the government will provide free treatment to those injured in the earthquake.
Earthquakes are common in Nepal which is situated on the ridge where the Tibetan and Indian tectonic plates meet and advance two meters closer to one another every century which results in pressure which is released in the form of earthquakes.
On October 16, Nepal’s Sudurpaschim province was hit by a 4.8-magnitude earthquake.
On October 22, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
A 3-magnitude quake hit Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu on October 3.
“A collision between Indian and Tibetan plates has been going on underground for a long time which has accumulated tremendous energy,” according to Bharat Koirala, senior seismologist at the National Earthquake Monitoring and Research Centre, Nepal. Mainly, western Nepal is under the threat of bigger earthquakes, he pointed out.
The 2015 quake destroyed or damaged more than 800,000 houses mainly in the western and central districts, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Government buildings, some stretches of roads and Kathmandu Valley’s famous historical monuments – Unesco world heritage sites – were destroyed or damaged with many villages north of Kathmandu flattened. (Agencies)