4.9 earthquake rocks KATHMANDU, Delhi-NCR, 5 injured


KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said.

Dozens of people with injuries were being brought to the main hospital in central Kathmandu. There was no immediate estimate on fatalities.

Several buildings collapsed in the center of the capital, including centuries-old temples, said resident Prachanda Sual.

He said he saw people running through the streets in panic. Ambulance sirens blared and government helicopters hovered overhead.

National radio warning people to stay outdoors because more aftershocks are feared. It is also asking people to maintain calm.

Old Kathmandu city is a warren of tightly packed, narrow lanes with poorly constructed homes piled on top of each other.

Nepal’s Information Minister Minendra Rijal told India’s NDTV station that there are reports of damage in and around Kathmandu but no immediate word on casualties.

He said rescue teams were on the scene.

The epicenter was 80 kilometers (49 mile) northwest of Kathmandu, he said. The Kathmandu Valley is densely populated with nearly 2.5 million, with the quality of buildings often poor.

An Associated Press reporter in Kathmandu said a wall in his compound collapsed and there was damage to nearby buildings.

The U.S. Geological Survey revised the magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 and said the quake hit at 11:56 a.m. local time (0611 GMT) at Lamjung a shallow depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles).

Mohammad Shahab, a resident from Lahore, Pakistan, said he was sitting in his office when the earthquake rocked the city near the border with India.

He said the tremors continued for a while but now the situation was normal.

The sustained quake also was felt in India’s capital of New Delhi. AP reporters in Indian cities of Lucknow in the north and Patna in the east also reported strong tremors.

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