Fresh Quake Rattles Nepal

Fresh Quake Rattles NepalFresh Quake Rattles Nepal

A major earthquake hit a remote mountain region of Nepal on Tuesday, killing at least 50 people, triggering landslides and toppling buildings less than three weeks after the Himalayan nation was ravaged by its worst quake in decades.

The magnitude-7.3 quake hit hardest in districts northeast of the capital and terrified a nation already shell-shocked and struggling after a more powerful quake on April 25 killed more than 8,150 and flattened entire villages, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, AP said in a report. Information was slow to reach Kathmandu after Tuesday's quake, but officials and aid workers said they expected the death toll to rise.

Within a few hours, the Home Ministry confirmed that dozens of people had been killed and at least 1,200 injured. Meanwhile, it said rescuers had managed to pull three people to safety in the capital, while another nine were rescued in the district of Dolkha.

Rescue helicopters were sent to mountain districts where landslides and collapsed buildings may have buried people, the government said. Home ministry official Laxmi Dhakal said the Sindhupalchowk and Dolkha districts were the hardest hit.

Search parties fanned out to look for survivors in the wreckage of collapsed buildings in Sindhulpalchowk's town of Chautara, which has become a hub for humanitarian aid since the magnitude-7.8 quake on April 25 - Nepal's worst recorded earthquake since 1934.

Tuesday's quake was deeper, however, coming from a depth of 18.5km versus the earlier one at 15km. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.

The Tuesday quake was followed closely by at least eight strong aftershocks, according to the US Geological Survey.

The international airport in Kathmandu, which has become a transport hub for international aid, was closed briefly after Tuesday's quake, while traffic snarled in the streets of the capital.

Early reports indicated at least two buildings had collapsed in Kathmandu, though at least one had been unoccupied due to damage it sustained during the April 25 quake. 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. Frightened residents who had returned to their homes only a few days ago were once again planning to sleep outdoors in empty fields, parking lots and on sidewalks Tuesday night.

"The shaking seemed to go on and on," Rose Foley, a UNICEF official based in Kathmandu, said after the latest quake. "It felt like being on a boat in rough seas."