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Nepal hit by 7.9 massive earthquake; iconic Bhimsen Tower no more

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Updated data by US Geological Survey have raised the magnitude of the morning earthquake in Nepal to 7.9. The massive earthquake has toppled houses’ walls and destroyed ancient temples.

The epicenter of the quake was in Pokhra. According to Indian Metriological Department, the epicenter was at Lat. 28.1°N , Long. 84.8°E, although its aftershocks were felt in Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Jaipur, Lucknow, Ahmedabad.

Pictures showing severed buildings have started appearing from Nepal. Dharahara Tower, also known as Bhimsen Tower, in Kathmandu, a nine story structure has also collapsed.

As of now, no estimate on the number of deaths has come out; however, a news agency has reported that about 100 people have died due to the quake.

Image: Prabhas Sharma
Image: Prabhas Sharma

Nepal’s Information Minister Minendra Rija said, “We need support from the various international agencies which are more knowledgeable and equipped to handle the kind of emergency we face now.”

Meanwhile, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has convened a high level meeting with ministers and top officials at 3 PM. He is also trying to contact Nepal PM, Shri Sushil Koirala, who is not in the country right now.

Expressing concern over the issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, ‘We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home & in Nepal.’

Mountaineer Daniel Mazur has also tweeted, “A massive earthquake just hit Everest. Basecamp has been severely damaged. Our team is caught in camp 1. Please pray for everyone.”

It is said to be the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years.  In 1934, Kathmandu was devastated by an enormous earthquake.

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9 Climbers Pulled From Snow After A Sudden Storm On Mount Gurja, Nepal

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

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Mount Gurja
Tourists take pictures at Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Mount Annapurna range in the background, some 200 km (124 miles) west of Kathmandu, Nov. 30, 2008. Annapurna, at 8,091 meters high, is the 10th highest mountain in the world.. VOA

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the mountaineering community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 meters (yards) away.

“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Mount Gurja
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp.

A second helicopter along with a team of rescue specialists and villagers were also involved in the mission, which has been hampered by strong winds as well as the camp’s remoteness in the Dhaulagiri mountain range of Nepal’s Annapurna region.

The bodies of the climbers, five South Koreans and four Nepalis, will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

‘Like a bomb went off’

The expedition’s camp was destroyed by the powerful storm, which hit the area late Thursday or Friday, flattening all the tents and leaving a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

Mount Gurja
Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, organised the expedition

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Experts puzzled

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Also Read: Nepal Saves Its Tiger Population, Doubles It

“At this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places,” Richards said.

The team had been on 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route. (VOA)