A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4, according to Nepal’s National Seismological Center, wreaked havoc in the western region of Jajarkot, Nepal, on Friday night. The disaster resulted in the death of at least 128 individuals and left dozens injured. The tremors were so strong that they were felt as far away as New Delhi, India, causing buildings to shake.
The earthquake, which struck at 11:47 p.m., is the deadliest Nepal has experienced since 2015. During that year, two earthquakes claimed the lives of approximately 9,000 people, causing extensive damage to towns, historic temples, and other sites. Over a million homes were destroyed, resulting in an economic loss of $6 billion.
The German Research Centre for Geosciences and the US Geological Survey, however, reported slightly lower magnitudes for the recent quake, measuring it at 5.7 and 5.6 respectively. Regardless of the exact magnitude, the impact was devastating, with houses collapsing and entire towns suffering significant damage.
Officials are concerned that the death toll may continue to rise as they have yet to establish contact with some areas near the epicenter, located approximately 300 miles west of the capital, Kathmandu. The affected region, home to 190,000 residents, is characterized by remote, hilly terrain with scattered villages, complicating rescue efforts.
Harish Chandra Sharma, a district official in Jajarkot, expressed concern about the potential increase in casualties. He stated that hundreds could be injured and the death toll could rise. The police reported that 92 people died in Jajarkot and 36 in the neighboring Rukum West district. At least 85 people were injured in Rukum West and 55 in Jajarkot, according to an official in the prime minister’s office.
The earthquake triggered landslides, blocking roads and hindering search and rescue operations. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, along with a 16-member army medical team, visited the area on Saturday to oversee the rescue and relief efforts. Dahal expressed his deep sorrow over the loss of life and property and ordered immediate rescue and relief operations.
Local media captured the extent of the damage, showing the crumbled facades of multi-story brick houses and scattered furniture. Videos showed terrified residents rushing into the streets as buildings were evacuated. The aftermath of the earthquake has left residents in fear, with many choosing to spend the night in open grounds due to the fear of aftershocks.