New Nepal quake death toll rises

Nepalese soldiere carry an elderly man to a helicopter before he is evacuated from an army base near Chautara yesterday. Picture: AP
Nepalese soldiere carry an elderly man to a helicopter before he is evacuated from an army base near Chautara yesterday. Picture: AP
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Thousands of fear-stricken people spent the night outdoors after a new earthquake killed dozens of people and spread more misery in Nepal, which is still reeling from a devastating quake that killed more than 8,000 nearly three weeks ago.

A US Marine Corps helicopter carrying six marines and two Nepalese soldiers was reported missing while delivering disaster aid in north-eastern Nepal, US officials said, although there have been no indications the aircraft crashed.

Home ministry official Laxmi Dhakal said yesterday that army helicopters were scouring the Sunkhani area, nearly 50 miles north-east of Kathmandu, for the missing helicopter.

Tuesday’s magnitude-7.3 quake, centred between Kathmandu and Mount Everest, struck hardest in the foothills of the Himalayas and triggered landslides that blocked roads to remote villages in several districts. Most of the 65 people confirmed dead by yesterday morning were in Dolakha district, located north-east of Kathmandu, the district’s chief administrator Prem Lal Lamichane said.

“People are terrorised. Everyone is scared here. They spent the night out in the open,” ­Lamichane said, adding that the administration was running out of relief material.

He asked the government to send more helicopters and supplies, and said there were many injured people stranded in villages.

Tuesday’s quake also left nearly 2,000 injured, according to the home ministry’s latest count. But that toll was expected to rise as reports trickled in of people in isolated Himalayan towns and villages being buried under rubble, according to the United Nations’ office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs.

Tremors radiated across parts of Asia. In neighbouring India, at least 16 people were confirmed dead after rooftops or walls collapsed on to them, according to India’s home ministry. Chinese media reported one death in Tibet.

The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit Nepal on 25 April killed more than 8,150 people and flattened entire villages, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless in the country’s worst-recorded quake since 1934. The US Geological Survey said Tuesday’s earthquake was the largest aftershock to date of that destructive quake.

Impoverished Nepal appealed for aid from foreign nations, as well as medical experts to treat the wounded and helicopters to ferry food and temporary shelters to hundreds of thousands left homeless amid unseasonal rains.

Search parties fanned out to look for survivors in the wreckage of collapsed buildings in Sindhupalchowk’s town of Chautara, which had become a hub for humanitarian aid after last month’s quake.

In Washington, navy Captain Chris Sims said the missing Huey helicopter was conducting disaster relief operations near Charikot, Nepal.

A nearby Indian helicopter heard radio chatter about a possible fuel problem, said US army Colonel Steve Warren.