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Thursday 8 December 2016

At least 59 dead after fresh earthquake in Nepal

Local residents clear rubble from the ruins of their home after the April 25 earthquake in Sankhu, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal, May 11, 2015
Local residents clear rubble from the ruins of their home after the April 25 earthquake in Sankhu, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal, May 11, 2015

At least 59 people have been confirmed dead and over 1,000 injured after another major earthquake hit Nepal.

A strong earthquake shook the country earlier today, sending people in the capital Kathmandu rushing out on to the streets weeks after a devastating quake killed more than 8,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, eyewitnesses said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.1 and struck 68 km west of the town of Namche Bazar, close to Mount Everest.

"This is a really big one," said Prakash Shilpakar, the owner of a handicrafts shop in Kathmandu who was trying to call his parents in the town of Bhaktapur, devastated in the April 25 quake.

Shockwaves were felt across northern India and as far away as the capital New Delhi, where buildings swayed for more than a minute.

Speaking from Nepal, GOAL’s director in the country Dr Raj Singh described the scene on the ground in Kathmandu as "chaotic".

“People are not permitted to enter buildings at the moment and we have had three aftershocks since the quake, one of which was very pronounced.”

He continued: “From where I am standing, I can see cracks in several buildings and there is a real fear of buildings collapsing."

“We are working as best we can to establish the level of damage, injuries and potential loss of life here in the capital and elsewhere.”

Mr Singh described the moment when the earthquake struck.

“Tables and chairs started to shake violently, doors were opening and closing and people started to panic. We got out as soon as we could and we saw buildings swaying as the shaking continued. The earthquake lasted approximately 30 seconds."

Mr Singh said the challenge for aid groups to support those who were affected by the first earthquake has now become even more daunting and challenging.

“The latest quake will undoubtedly complicate and frustrate this work.”

The quake's epicentre was close to Everest Base Camp, which was evacuated after an avalanche triggered by the April 25 quake killed 18 climbers.

Mountaineers seeking to scale the world's tallest peak have called off this year's Everest season.

An official with the International Organisation for Migration said a number of buildings collapsed in the isolated town of Chautara after today's earthquake, with at least four people killed.

IOM spokesman Paul Dillon said a search and rescue team had already begun searching through the wreckage of the little town.

Chautara has become a hub for humanitarian aid in the wake of the April 25 disaster , with dozens of aid workers now based there to send help deeper into the countryside.

Meanwhile Irish NGO Plan Ireland says additional emergency relief for people in Nepal following today's earthquake.

Plan Ireland's Mike Bruce is in Kathmandu and said they are continuing with their operations despite aftershocks.

"The aftershocks continue to happen, people have flooded the streets in Kathmandu. Right now, we are setting out operations outside, waiting for the aftershocks to subside. There have been heavy rains in recent days, spurring on-going fear of landslides and further damage to already affected communities.

"Currently, Plan teams are spread out across Kathmandu valley and several districts in the affected areas – carrying out their distributions and delivery of emergency items to families who have lost their homes and are in temporary shelter," he said.

Plan Ireland has already airlifted emergency relief items provided by the Irish government into isolated, mountainous, and rural areas in parts of central Nepal.

To contribute to Plan Ireland’s emergency appeal go to www.plan.ie or call 1800 829 829.

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