'I Tried to Run, but the Whole House Collapsed'

Powerful quake in northwest Nepal kills more than 150
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 4, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
Powerful Nepal Quake Kills More Than 150
People airlifted from an earthquake-affected area arrive in Nepalgunj, Nepal, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Krishna Adhikari)

Survivors of a strong earthquake that shook Nepal's northwest in the middle of the night described sudden shaking, followed by houses collapsing and burying entire families, as the death toll rose to 157 on Saturday. Most of those killed were crushed by debris when their houses—usually made by stacking rocks and logs—crumbled under the force of the temblor around midnight Friday, local media reported. While rescuers were scrambling to rush aid, operations were hampered by the fact that many of the mountainous villages could only be reached by foot, per the AP. Roads were also blocked by landslides triggered by the earthquake. Soldiers could be seen trying to clear the blocked roads. The government is trying to get as much aid as possible to the affected areas, Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha said on Saturday.

Tents, food, and medicine were flown in as thousands became homeless overnight. "I was fast asleep when all of a sudden it started shaking violently," said Bimal Kumar Karki, one of the first people to be brought to the regional hospital. "I tried to run, but the whole house collapsed. I tried escaping, but half my body got buried in the debris." He added: "I screamed, but every one of my neighbors was in the same situation and screaming for help. It took nearly a half-hour to an hour before rescuers found me." Besides aid, rescuers were focused on finding survivors. Local television aired footage of troops recovering bodies, while others helped dig out and carry the injured.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.6 and occurred at a depth of 11 miles. Nepal's National Earthquake Monitoring & Research Center said its epicenter was at Jajarkot, a mostly agricultural area. At least 105 people were confirmed dead there, while 52 were killed in the neighboring Rukum district, officials said. Another 184 were injured. The quake, which hit when many people were already asleep in their homes, was also felt in India's capital, New Delhi, more than 500 miles away. Earthquakes are common in mountainous Nepal. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015 killed some 9,000 people and damaged about 1 million structures. Neighboring India is offering to help in the rescue efforts. Much more here.

(More Nepal stories.)

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