Kathmandu (Nepal): A new earthquake and several powerful aftershocks hit devastated Nepal on Tuesday, killing at least four people and sending terrified residents running into the streets of the traumatized capital.
The 7.3-magnitude quake struck at 12:35 pm, some 76 kilometers (47 miles) east of Kathmandu, the US Geological Survey said, more than two weeks after a 7.8-magnitude quake which killed more than 8,000 people.
Tuesday’s quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, and officials said it caused buildings to collapse in Chinese-controlled Tibet.
A second tremor of 6.3 magnitude struck around half an hour later, followed by aftershocks, according to the USGS.
“According to the reports that we have received from the ground, four people have been killed due to collapsed buildings,” Paul Dillon, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, told AFP.
All the deaths were in the Chautara district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered huge damage in the April 25 disaster.
The ground swayed for close to a minute from the first tremor on Tuesday, and sirens wailed, according to an AFP correspondent in Kathmandu.
“We felt it and suddenly there were huge crowds running up and down,” said resident Suresh Sharma, who was in a vegetable market at the time.
“It was very scary and very difficult to make my way out,” added the 63-year-old.
“The last time we had the big quake I ran out of my house and barely escaped. This one felt just like that one. I can’t believe it’s happening again.”
Although the latest quake did not appear to be as severe as the April 25 one, residents were terrified that buildings which were already badly damaged could come crashing down.
Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, the main entry point for flights bringing in international aid since the April quake, was closed anew Tuesday as a precaution.
Whole villages were destroyed in that quake while large parts of Kathmandu were destroyed, leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Relief teams from around the world are still working to provide water, food and medical assistance to Nepalis following the quake.
– Patients wheeled out of hospital –
On Tuesday at the main hospital in Kathmandu, patients injured in last month’s quake were being wheeled out in wheelchairs.
People could be seen frantically calling their families as medical attendants rushed to set up tents in the parking lot.
The capital was filled with the sound of car horns as desperate residents rushed to get back home to check on loved ones.
Pramita Tamrakar, who had only just reopened her family’s furniture store, said she had rushed out onto the street after grabbing her eight-year-old son and 12 year-old daughter.
“We thought the tremors had ceased, so we thought we would start work again,” she told AFP.
“I don’t understand what is going on. I saw in the news the day before yesterday that the risk was lower, it wouldn’t happen again… and today we had a big one. I am very scared. My children are also very scared.”
Nepalese police urged people to stay outside and avoid jamming the fragile cellphone network.
“Please stay in open field, help us make free road, do not make phone nw (network) busy. SMS is suggested,” said a message from the national police service’s Twitter account.
Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Centre tweeted: “Pray to Almighty: Keep all Nepalese Safe in this difficult period of time.”
The quake was also felt some 1,000 kilometres away in the Indian capital New Delhi where buildings shook and office workers evacuated.
Other cities in northern India were also rocked, including Bihar where television footage showed residents gathering on the streets and goods having toppled over in shop windows.
A Chinese official at the Tibet regional seismological bureau said there had been reports of damage but no casualties.
“Today’s aftershock was felt strongly in Zhangmu town of Shigatse city,” the official who gave his name as Chen told AFP.
“According to local government, some houses damaged by the previous earthquake collapsed. Since residents were transferred to safe areas last time and are still living in tents, no casualties have been reported so far.”
While nearly all of those killed by the April 25 quake were in Nepal, around 100 victims also died in India and China.