Another earthquake strikes Nepal killing dozens

A Mexican rescue worker stands at the site of a building that collapsed in an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Everest region of Nepal less than three weeks after a similar-sized earthquake killed more than 8,000 people. Today’s earthquake caused buildings to shake in the capital city of Kathmandu and was felt as far away as New Delhi, India. Aftershocks followed in its wake.

People fled their homes and buildings as some collapsed. In some places, rocks came crashing down from hillside perches. And a video of the Nepali parliament showed political leaders and staff running out of the building once the earthquake began.

“For a moment, I felt that the building I was in would come down. We rushed out,” said Christian Aid emergency program officer Yeeshu Shukla, who was 40 miles from the epicenter delivering aid services in the Sindhupalchowk region. “Everyone was out on the street, some of them panicking, with mothers screaming, looking for their children. There were four or five severe after-shocks and some buildings collapsed.”

So far, nearly 40 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries are reported, but those numbers may rise in the coming hours. The U.N. says the earthquake caused buildings damaged by the previous earthquake to fall down in Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk Districts. Other aid groups, including UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration quickly reported the impacts of the earthquake.

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“It was very strong and lasted for around 20 to 25 seconds,” said Nathalie Fauveau, a Medair relief worker, working in Kathmandu when the earthquake struck. “The walls started swaying and everybody ran outside. I took refuge with a staff member under a door frame and when it slowed down, we ran downstairs then outside. The local Nepali staff were pale with fear  – you could see the trauma from the first earthquake resurface. Aftershocks are still continuing.”

The International Organization for Migration told AFP that four people died in Chautara when a building collapsed. In total, 31 of Nepal’s 75 districts were affected by today’s earthquake. Funding is still short for the response to the initial disaster. The U.N.-coordinated appeal for $423 million is only 13 percent funded as of today. With another earthquake, the financial needs are likely to increase.

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Scientists warned that the initial earthquake would likely trigger others that could be worse. Three to five times as many “feet of motion” may need to be released along the fault line, said Eric Kirby, a geologist at Oregon State University, to Live Science two weeks ago. Gavin Hayes, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey, agreed in an interview with Science magazine. He is particularly concerned about the potential for worse earthquakes in the future.

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Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]humanosphere.org.