In the wake of a devastating earthquake in Nepal, the country grapples with a rising death toll and the arduous task of searching for survivors amidst the debris of destruction. The quake, the most severe Nepal has encountered in nearly a decade, has claimed 157 lives and caused widespread panic, with tremors felt as far away as India’s capital, New Delhi. The tremor, which struck the Jajarkot region in western Nepal on Friday at 23:47 GMT, was recorded at varying magnitudes by different agencies: 6.4 by Nepal’s National Seismological Centre, 5.7 by the German Research Centre for Geosciences, and 5.6 by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Despite discrepancies in magnitude, the impact was uniformly catastrophic, with officials fearing an escalation in the casualty figures. Harish Chandra Sharma, a district official in Jajarkot, expressed concerns to Reuters that the numbers of injured are likely in the hundreds, with fatalities expected to rise. Rescue operations, which began in earnest early Saturday, are hindered by the region’s rugged terrain, with the epicenter located some 500 kilometers west of the nation’s capital.
The destruction is attributed not only to the earthquake’s force but also to the substandard construction prevalent in the area and the unfortunate timing of the quake occurring during the night. The devastation calls to mind the tragic events of 2015 when a series of earthquakes resulted in approximately 9,000 deaths and the obliteration of entire towns, temples, and historical sites, incurring an economic blow estimated at $6 billion.
Details emerge of the affected regions, with 105 fatalities reported in Jajarkot and 52 in the adjacent Rukum West district, part of Karnali province. Rama Acharya, a disaster department official at the federal home ministry, provided these figures as part of an initial assessment. The village of Ramidanda, designated as the epicenter, has since experienced 175 aftershocks, with six recorded at a magnitude of 4 or higher, adding to the region’s instability.
The districts of Jajarkot and Rukum West, home to nearly 190,000 residents, face a dire situation with three towns and three villages significantly impacted. Injuries have been documented across the affected areas, with at least 85 in Rukum West and 55 in Jajarkot, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. As the international community turns its attention to the crisis, the full extent of the tragedy continues to unfold.