A strong earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on Richter scale and a series of aftershocks struck Nepal on Saturday. The quakes also jolted parts of North and Northeast India. Widespread damage has been reported from Nepal.
Assistance from India is on its way to Kathmandu, where wife of an Indian embassy official was killed and a local staff member injured after today’s massive earthquake. One house of the Indian embassy has also been damaged.
“The first Indian Air Force aircraft carrying nearly three tonnes of equipment and a 40-member NDRF team has landed in Kathmandu. Two additional aircrafts of the Indian Air Force are also ready at the Hindon Air Base,” said Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar while briefing the media today.
Two engineering teams with specialized rescue equipment are expected to leave from Bathinda tomorrow morning.
In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal, a control room has been set up in Ministry of External Affairs to provide all help and information round the clock.
The numbers to the 24-hour Control Room are +91 11 2301 2113, +91 11 2301 4104 and +91 11 2301 7905.
The Foreign Secretary has urged Indians to reach out to the External Affairs Ministry on [email protected] and share details and co-ordinates of friends and relatives that need assistance in Nepal.
Indians in Nepal can also contact the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu on +977 9851107021, 9851135141
“The situation in Nepal is difficult. Internet is down, television isn’t working and parts of Kathmandu have no electricity. So people will have to find a way to connect with us, after that we will provide full assistance,” said Mr. Jaishankar.
He also said that Nepal has made a fairly broad request for assistance from India, ranging from relief and rescue to medical assistance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a high-level meeting in Delhi with ministers and top officials to assess the situation. After the meeting, the Prime Minister directed evacuation of tourists and immediate dispatch of relief and rescue teams to Nepal, as well as to affected areas in India.
He has appointed Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy to handle the aftermath in the states bordering Nepal.
Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu has been left devastated with roads split open, and homes and iconic landmarks collapsed into rubble. There was little information coming from the outlying areas of the mountainous country and helicopters were circling overheard to get a sense of the damage.
A shallow quake like this morning’s is usually more dangerous because the amount of energy released is focused over a smaller area.
At the main hospital in Kathmandu, people with broken limbs and arms were being rushed in for treatment. It was unclear how many people were injured.
The historic Dharahara Tower built in the 19th century in Kathmandu collapsed, trapping at least 200 people, Nepal police said. The tower had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor. Witnesses spoke of dead bodies being removed from the site.
Photographs from Kathmandu posted online showed buildings left in rubble, large cracks along roads and residents sitting in the street holding babies.
The US Geological Survey said the quake, initially measured at 7.7 but upgraded to 7.9 magnitude, struck 80 km east of Pokhara.