A powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck a remote mountainous region of western Nepal late Friday night, leaving widespread destruction and at least 132 fatalities in its wake. Rescue operations are underway as officials scramble to provide aid to affected areas, though the search is hampered by landslides and communication challenges.

Remote Epicenter Makes Access Difficult

The quake was centered in the Jajarkot district, an impoverished rural area home to around 200,000 people. The remote location of the epicenter has made assessing the full extent of the damage difficult, as roads have been blocked and communication lines disrupted.

Police spokesperson Gopal Chandra Bhattarai told media that first responders are attempting to reach cut-off villages via alternative routes. All helicopter operators in Nepal have been placed on standby to assist with transporting the injured from the hardest-hit areas.

Nighttime Tremors Multiplied Destruction

Occurring late at night around 2:12 am local time, the powerful tremors caught many residents asleep in bed as houses and buildings collapsed around them. Without warning, families were crushed under crumbling bricks and concrete. Locals described being buried alive, with survivors having to dig themselves and neighbors out from under the wreckage.

The timing of the quake significantly increased the loss of life and injuries. Had it struck during daytime hours, more people may have been able to escape to safety.

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Historic Sites Reduced to Rubble

In the district of Rukum, the earthquake brought down numerous houses and historic structures. Centuries-old temples and buildings of cultural importance were instantly reduced to rubble. The devastation comes just eight years after a massive 7.8 magnitude quake struck Nepal, destroying around 1 million buildings.

Friday’s quake underscores the vulnerability of the region to seismic hazards. Most houses and infrastructure lack adequate earthquake resilience.

India and Global Community Offers Support

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences over the tragic loss of life and offered assistance in rescue operations. An emergency hotline number has been set up by the Indian embassy in Nepal for citizens seeking help.

International aid groups are also preparing to mobilize relief efforts and supplies. In 2015, global donors raised around $4.1 billion in aid following the earthquake, demonstrating the outpouring of support Nepal received from allies.

With aftershocks still occurring and the full extent of the damage still being uncovered, search and rescue teams continue working around the clock to assist victims of this devastating disaster. Officials emphasize that saving lives remains the top priority, as the death toll is expected to rise further amidst the rubble.

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Ongoing Aftershocks Put Survivors on Edge

Even as rescue operations press on, nerves remain frayed as aftershocks continue to jolt the region. Over 20 tremors with a magnitude of 4 or more have struck since the initial quake, leaving residents fearful of being caught in another sudden disaster.

With hundreds of collapsed buildings and cracks forming in infrastructure, experts warn of potential landslides occurring in the already unstable terrain. This poses a further threat to people awaiting aid in vulnerable areas.

Seismologists are monitoring seismic activity to provide advance warning if any significantly large aftershocks are detected. However, smaller tremors may strike unpredicted.

Hospitals Overwhelmed With Large Influx of Patients

Medical facilities in Nepal have been inundated with injured, exceeding capacity. At the regional hospital in Nepalgunj, over 100 extra beds were set up and additional doctors put on standby. However, the influx of patients has created immense strain on staff and resources.

Many victims suffered severe crush injuries from being buried under debris. Doctors report performing rapid amputations in order to free those trapped beneath heavy rubble and wreckage. The limited medical care in rural regions has also meant victims face difficulties accessing urgent treatment.

Helicopter airlifts are transporting patients with life-threatening wounds to major hospitals. But the sheer number of injured has overwhelmed the system.

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Government Urges Donations, Calls For Unity

Nepal’s Prime Minister has appealed to the nation to come together in solidarity and support. He stated the government’s priority remains saving lives and requested donations to aid rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

Citizens in unaffected urban areas have begun gathering emergency supplies of food, medicine, and blankets to distribute to victims. Social media campaigns have also sprung up calling for volunteer rescue workers and financial contributions.

The government is coordinating international aid arriving from allies. However, officials emphasize that given the scale of the disaster, widespread contributions from Nepali citizens will greatly assist in response efforts. They have urged unity and compassion as the nation grieves and rebuilds.


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