Nepalese dig for quake survivors as toll exceeds 1,900 and big aftershock hits

admin   •   April 26, 2015   •   2082

People search for family members trapped inside collapsed houses a day after an earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal April 26, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

(Reuters) – Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu Valley, killing at least 1,900, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.

Army officer Santosh Nepal and a group of rescuers worked all night to open a passage into a collapsed building in the capital Kathmandu. They had to use pick axes because bulldozers could not get through the ancient city’s narrow streets.

“We believe there are still people trapped inside,” he told Reuters, pointing at concrete debris and twisted reinforcement rods where a three-storey residential building once stood.

In Everest’s worst disaster, the bodies of 17 climbers were recovered from the mountain on Sunday after being caught in avalanches. A plane carrying the first 15 injured climbers landed in Kathmandu at around noon local time.

“There is a lot of confusion on the mountain. The toll will rise,” said Gelu Sherpa, one of the walking wounded among the first 15 injured climbers flown to Kathmandu. “Tents have been blown away,” said Sherpa, his head in bandages.

A strong aftershock on Sunday unleashed further avalanches in the Himalayas and shook buildings as far away as the Indian capital New Delhi, halting the city metro.

“Another one, we have an aftershock right now. Oh shit!” said Indian climber Arjun Vajpai over the phone from Makalu base camp near Everest. “Avalanche!” he shouted. Screams and the roar of crashing snow could be heard over the line as he spoke.

That aftershock, measured at 6.7, was the strongest since Saturday’s 7.9 quake – which was the strongest since Nepal’s worst earthquake disaster of 1934 that killed 8,500 people.

“Horrible here in Camp 1 – avalanches on 3 sides,” tweeted climber Daniel Mazur from an advance base on Everest.

The aftershock hit Nepal and the eastern part of the north Indian state of Bihar.

“There is no way one can forecast the intensity of aftershocks so people need to be alert for the next few days,” said L.S. Rathore, chief of India’s state-run weather office.

GOVERNMENT OVERWHELMED

With Nepal’s government overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, India flew in medical supplies and relief crews, while China sent in a 60-strong emergency team. Relief agencies said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were overflowing and running out of medical supplies.

Among the capital’s landmarks destroyed in the earthquake was the 60-metre (200-foot) Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal, with a viewing balcony that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years.

A jagged stump was all that was left of the lighthouse-like structure. As bodies were pulled from the ruins on Saturday, a policeman said up to 200 people had been trapped inside.

Bodies were still arriving on Sunday morning at one hospital in Kathmandu, where police officer Sudan Shreshtha said his team had brought 166 corpses overnight.

“I am tired and exhausted, but I have to work and have the strength,” Shreshtha told Reuters as an ambulance brought three more victims to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

Bodies were heaped in a dark room, some covered with cloth, some not. A boy aged about seven had his face half missing and his stomach bloated like a football. The stench of death was overpowering.

Outside, a 30-year-old woman who had been widowed wailed: “Oh Lord, oh God, why did you take him alone? Take me along with him also.”

Save the Children’s Peter Olyle said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were running out of storage room for bodies and emergency supplies. “There is a need for a government decision on bringing in kits from the military,” he said from Kathmandu.

Some buildings in Kathmandu toppled like houses of cards, others leaned at precarious angles, and partial collapses exposed living rooms and furniture in place and belongings stacked on shelves.

Rescuers, some wearing face masks to keep out the dust from collapsed buildings, scrambled over mounds of splintered timber and broken bricks in the hope of finding survivors. Some used their bare hands to fill small white buckets with dirt and rock.

Thousands of people spent the night outside in chilly temperatures and patchy rain, too afraid to return to their damaged homes.

On Sunday, survivors wandered the streets clutching flimsy bed rolls and blankets, while others sat in the street cradling their children, surrounded by a few plastic bags of belongings.

The 7.9 magnitude quake struck at midday on Saturday at a busy time of year for the tourism-reliant country’s trekking and climbing season, with an estimated 300,000 foreign tourists in the country, home to many World Heritage sites.

Nepal’s police put the death toll at 1,910, with 4,625 hurt. At least 700 were killed in the capital, a city of about 1 million people where many homes are old, poorly built and packed close together.

WORST EVEREST DISASTER

There was nearly 1,000 climbers and sherpas on Everest when the first avalanche struck, claiming the highest toll of any disaster on the world’s highest mountain.

Climber photographs on social media sites showed tents and other structures at Everest base camp flattened by rocks and snow. The first reported photo of the avalanche showed a monster “cloud-like” mass of snow and rock descending down the mountain.

Helicopters were able to fly in on Sunday morning as clouds lifted to evacuate the injured to a lower altitude, from where they were being flown to Kathmandu.

“All badly injured heli evacuated,” Romanian climber Alex Gavan tweeted from base camp. “Caring for those needing. Want sleep.”

Another 100 climbers higher up Everest at camps 1 and 2, were safe but their way back down the mountain was blocked by damage to the treacherous Khumbu icefalls, scene of an avalanche that killed 16 climbers last year. Helicopters had started to shuttle them to base camp, Gavan reported.

The main earthquake, centred 50 miles (80 km) east of the second city, Pokhara, was all the more destructive for being shallow.

Neighbouring India, where 49 people were reported killed in the quake and its aftershocks, sent military aircraft to Nepal with medical equipment and relief teams. It also said it had dispatched 285 members of its National Disaster Response Force.

In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China’s state news agency, Xinhua.

(Additional reporting by Ross Adkin and Rupam Jain Nair in Kathmandu; Frank Jack Daniel, Andrew MacAskill, Mayank Bhardwaj, Krista Mahr and Nidhi Verma in in New Delhi; Clara Ferreira Marques and Neha Dasgupta in Mumbai and Norihiko Shirouzo in Beijing; Writing by Douglas Busvine and Mike Collett-White; Editing by Nick Macfie and Michael Perry)

9 dead in Turkey after earthquake hits Iran border area

UNTV News   •   February 24, 2020

BASKALE, TURKEY (FEBRUARY 23, 2020)DAMAGED HOMES

Nine people died and hundreds of buildings collapsed in southeastern Turkey on Sunday (February 23) after a magnitude-5.7 earthquake struck near the border with Iran, injuring dozens in villages and towns in both countries, government officials said.

Three of those killed were children and 37 Turks were injured, including nine critically, Turkey’s health ministry said.

The shallow tremor caused more than 1,000 buildings to collapse in Turkey, prompting a brief rescue effort to find those trapped under rubble.

The quake damaged buildings some 90 km (56 miles) to the west in the Turkish city of Van, and to the east in dozens of villages in Iran, where state TV said 75 people were injured including six in hospital, though there were no fatalities.

Crisscrossed by major fault lines, Iran and Turkey are among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.—Yesim Dikmen via Reuters Connect

Magnitude 5.4 quake rattles Davao Occidental

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A magnitude 5.4 earthquake rattled parts of Davao Occidental on Thursday afternoon, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported.

In its bulletin, Phivolcs said the epicenter of the quake that struck around 5:54 p.m. was traced 35 kilometers southeast of Jose Abad Santos in Davao Occidental.

It had a depth of 190 kilometers and tectonic in origin.

The tremor was felt at intensity III in General Santos City, Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato, and Alabel, Saranggani; intensity II in Maasin and Malapatan, Sarangani, and Davao City, while intensity I was felt in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Phivolcs said there was no reported damage but aftershocks should be expected.

Danger remains as volcanic activities increase in Taal

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2020

Aerial photos Taal Volcano eruption aftermath epa08135676 Handout aerial photo provided by the Office of Civil Defense shows the Taal Volcano crater in Batangas province, south of Manila, Philippines, 17 January 2020. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has kept the alert level at four, following the volcano’s eruption on 12 January 2020. EPA-EFE/OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

MANILA, Philippines – Over a week since Taal Volcano began its eruptive activity, danger still remains according to experts.

In fact, a total of 787 earthquakes have been recorded in the volcano island on Saturday (January 18) alone, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).

This frequency of ground shaking is double the number of all volcanic earthquakes recorded in the previous six days of Taal’s volcanic activity.

Over the weekend, more than 200 tremors were recorded within the range of magnitude 1.2 and 4.1, the PHIVOLCS said and on Sunday evening (January 19), the strongest shaking – magnitude 4.2 earthquake – was felt in Mabini, Batangas.

The volcano institute have also observed that Taal is producing about one-kilometer high white ash pillar and sulfur dioxide of around 1,442 tons each day.

Because of these observations, PHIVOLCS cannot just lift or downgrade Alert Level 4 that is currently in effect around the volcano island because the possibility of a massive explosive eruption remains high within hours or days.

Thus, PHIVOLCS strongly appeals for understanding and more patience from residents and reminds them not to return yet to their villages especially those within the 14-km danger zone.

Volcanic earthquakes recorded in Taal:

  • January 19 – 787
  • January 18 – 366
  • January 17 – 65
  • January 16 – 103
  • January 15 – 159
  • January 14 – 49
  • January 13 – 52

Source: PHIVOLCS

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