Published On: Mon, Apr 27th, 2015

Hundreds flee Kathmandu for plains as aftershocks spread fear, quake toll rises to 3,218; rains hamper rescue efforts

Kathmandu: Hundreds of Nepalis were fleeing the capital Kathmandu for the plains on Monday, terror-stricken by two days of powerful aftershocks following a massive earthquake that killed 3,218 people and faced with shortages of food and water.

A girl holds her mother as they stand outside a hospital during a strong aftershock after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 26, 2015.Photo : Reuters

A girl holds her mother as they stand outside a hospital during a strong aftershock after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 26, 2015.
Photo : Reuters

“The death toll has reached 3,218 and over 6,500 are injured,” said Rameshwor Dangal, head of the home ministry’s national disaster management division.

Roads leading out of the mountain valley city of one million were jammed with people, many with babies in their arms, trying to climb onto buses or hitch a ride aboard cars and trucks.

Many said they had slept in the open since Saturday’s quake, either because their homes were flattened or they were terrified that the aftershocks would bring them crashing down.

“We are escaping,” said Krishna Muktari, who runs a small grocery store in Kathmandu city. “How can you live here? I have got children, they can’t be rushing out of the house all night.”

With no electricity, capital Kathmandu resembled a ghost town with rains pounding the city, forcing the closure of the airport where chaotic scenes were witnessed with stranded foreign tourists desperate to go home.

Tens of thousands of people were forced to spend the night sleeping on city streets in makeshift plastic tents barely shielding them from the pouring rain.

“Still raining, adds to the misery. Only consolation is that it may ease the water crisis in some of the shelters,” Nepali Times Editor Kunda Dixit tweeted.

He said Nepal urgently needs tents and medicines.

Earlier, fresh powerful aftershocks yesterday triggered panic among the stricken people and caused avalanches on Mount Everest which had taken a toll of 22 lives.

A strong 6.7-magnitude aftershock followed by another measuring 6.5 on the Richter Scale, sent people scrambling for open spaces.

The 7.9-magnitude quake on Saturday left a trail of devastation and suffering, with people spending the cold night in the open because of fears of fresh quake.

1,053 people are reported killed in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Officials fear the death toll could rise as desperate search for survivors continued. Mass cremations were held here with the toll rising throughout the day.

International rescue teams, including from India, have arrived here as Nepal declared a state of emergency in the wake of the disaster, the worst in over 80 years of the country’s recorded history.

Inputs with Reuters and PTI

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