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Massive Earthquake Hits Nepal Again

  • VOA Staff

Nepalese people gather in the middle of a road during an earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

Nepalese people gather in the middle of a road during an earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

A strong earthquake struck Nepal early Tuesday afternoon, shaking a country still dealing with a devastating quake that hit less than three weeks ago.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said four people were killed in the town of Chautara, where the new earthquake caused several buildings to collapse.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 7.3-magnitude quake was centered about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of the capital, Kathmandu.

Within an hour, six aftershocks hit the area with the strongest at magnitude 6.3.

The epicenter Tuesday was about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the center of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck on April 25, killing more than 8,000 people and leaving thousands homeless.

A rescue team from the IOM has begun searching through the wreckage at Chautara, said Paul Dillon, a spokesman with the agency.

Hub for aid

Chautara had become a hub for humanitarian aid in the wake of the earlier quake.

Tuesday's quake was deeper, however, coming from a depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles) versus the April 25 quake that hit 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). More shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage at the surface.

The international airport in Kathmandu, which has become a transport hub for international aid, was closed temporarily, while traffic snarled in the streets of Kathmandu.

“The shaking seemed to go on and on,” said Rose Foley, a UNICEF official based in Kathmandu. “It felt like being on a boat in rough seas.”

Aid agencies were still struggling Tuesday afternoon to get reports from outside the capital.

“We're thinking about children across the country, and who are already suffering. This could make them even more vulnerable,” Foley said.

No immediate damage estimates

In the capital of Kathmandu, the quake sent people rushing outside their homes. Police gave no immediate estimates of damage.

Indian Embassy spokesman Abhay Kumar said some buildings in Kathmandu collapsed, but he gave no further details about how many or where they were. Experts say the April 25 quake caused extensive structural damage even in buildings that did not topple, and that many could be in danger of future collapse.

Norway's Red Cross, which was helping people from the earlier earthquake at a 60-bed hospital in Chautara in central Nepal, said on Twitter in Norwegian that Tuesday there were “many injured, several killed” and added that their hospital tents already has gotten patients.

“People are terribly scared. Everyone ran out in the streets because they are afraid of being inside the houses,” Norwegian Red Cross Secretary-General Asne Havnelid told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

At the Norvic Hospital in Kathmandu, patients and doctors rushed to the parking lot.

“I thought I was going to die this time,” said Sulav Singh, who rushed with his daughter into the street in the suburban neighborhood of Thapathali. “Things were just getting back to normal, and we get this one.”

Across the region

Strong shaking was also felt across northern India. In the Indian capital of New Delhi, people scrambled outdoors while buildings swayed.

Across the Nepalese border in Tibet's Jilong and Zhangmu regions, the Earth shook strongly. Tremors were also felt slightly in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

“Rocks fell from the mountains,” Jilong county government vice chief Wang Wenxiang was quoted as saying by China News Service. “There might be some houses collapsed or damaged. We are now checking on the condition of the people.”

The government and aid agencies have been working to provide food, water and shelter in an operation that struggled in its early days because of aftershocks, bad weather and the challenge of reaching outlying areas in the Himalayan nation.

Last week, the United Nations said it had received only $22 million of the $415 million needed for the emergency response to last month's earthquake.

Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N.'s chief official in Nepal, said donations for the humanitarian efforts in the impoverished Himalayan nation need to be "dramatically ramped up."

McGoldrick said relief personnel are now working "so that people have roofs over their heads and their other urgent needs are addressed before the monsoon season starts."

Monsoon rains usually start in June, triggering avalanches and flooding.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.