A strong earthquake shook Nepal, Saturday afternoon with a magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale.
The epicenter of the quake was located 77 km northwest of capital Kathmandu. The shaking was shallow causing wide-spread destruction across the country up to the Himalayan Mountains. Intensity 5 was felt as far as Uttar Pradesh in India and moderate shaking in Calcutta. Several aftershocks followed impeding rescue efforts.
Citizen, tourists and journalist in Kathmandu were able to tweet and upload pictures of the devastation in the city. Centuries-old structures were among the first casualties of the quake as they collapsed and turned into dust. Residents also tried to find their loved ones wherein houses were either pushed up from the ground, pinned down by falling debris or smashed between nearby structures. People dig under rubbles for possible survivors as others run for safety and seek medical attention.
The current death toll has reached almost 2000 including 12 climbers and several are missing after an avalanche hit Himalayas camp site. Google Executive Dan Fredinburg was one of the casualties in the avalanche. This is still unofficial and could rise in the coming days according to Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs as government officials try to reach small towns outside the capital. In Tibet, China’s CCTV reported 12 casualties, houses destroyed and roads buckled.
According to USGS model, there is a 32% chance that over 10,000 people died and 17% that there could be over 100,000 deaths.
It is more likely that there are widespread destruction throughout the country and high incidence of casualties. This is based on the country’s record on population and structural integrity of the buildings in the city.
USGS first recorded magnitude of the Nepal earthquake at 7.5 which later was upgraded to 7.8 after adjusting their data.
Two major aftershocks were felt, 6.6 and 5.1, and a series of aftershocks below 5.0 followed.
The deadly shaking was a result of thrusting between the Eurasian plate on the northern side of the fault and over the subducting Indian plate on the southern side of the fault. In 1988, a 6.9 magnitude quake took 1,500 lives. And in 1934, a magnitude 8.0, otherwise known as the Nepal-Bihar earthquake, crippled Kathmandu and with an estimate of 10,600 killed. Kathmandu has a population of 1 million to date.
UPDATE 1 pm: The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Sunday that no Filipino was hurt in the disaster and 2 Pinoy mountaineers are safe according to the Filipino Community in Kathmandu.