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Rescue efforts called off after Nepal quake

By AFP

November 5, 2023 01:21 PM


Rescue efforts called off after Nepal quake

Medical personnel attend to a wounded victim at a hospital in Nepalgunj after an earthquake in western Nepal on November 4, 2023. At least 132 people were killed in an overnight earthquake of 5.6-magnitude that struck a remote pocket of Nepal, officials s

Search and rescue efforts after an earthquake in Nepal wrapped up on Sunday as the focus shifted to providing relief to survivors awaiting food and shelter, officials said 36 hours after the disaster struck.

At least 157 people were killed in isolated western districts of the Himalayan country when the 5.6-magnitude earthquake hit late Friday.

Many survivors spent the night under the open sky, their mud houses reduced to piles of rubble.

Several people died in the village of Nalgad, in the worst-hit Jajarkot district, where Mahesh Chanare prepared to cremate his father-in-law Sunday.

"The rest of my family is safe," the 34-year-old plumber told AFP.

"But the houses have buried everything with them, there is hardly anything to eat," he added.

"No relief materials have reached us. People here desperately need food and tents."

Altogether 105 people died in Jajarkot and another 52 in neighbouring Rukum district, officials said, with more than 100 injured, and search and rescue operations had been concluded.

"We are in touch with all areas and rescue operations have wrapped up," said provincial police spokesman Gopal Chandra Bhattarai.

"But we are still on alert as this is a remote area and there might be some isolated areas from where information has not flowed."

Harish Chandra Sharma, a Jajarkot district official, said the focus was now on providing relief to the victims.

"It has been a tough night and we are trying to get relief materials to those affected by the quake," Sharma said.

"Some have been distributed but we need to reach all areas."

On Friday, locals frantically dug through rubble in the dark to pull survivors from the wreckage of collapsed homes and buildings, as others crouched outside for safety.

The quake was felt as far away as India's capital New Delhi, nearly 500 kilometres (310 miles) from the epicentre.

Security forces were deployed on foot and in helicopters to assist with search and rescue operations.

Nepal lies on a major geological faultline where the Indian tectonic plate pushes up into the Eurasian plate, forming the Himalayas, and earthquakes are a regular occurrence.

Nearly 9,000 people died and more than 22,000 were injured in 2015 when a 7.8-magnitude quake struck Nepal, destroying more than half a million homes.

Six people also died in November last year when a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck Doti district, near Jajarkot.

Friday's quake was followed several hours later by an aftershock in the same area with a 4.0 magnitude, the US Geological Survey said.



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