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Nepal quake as powerful as 20 atomic bombs; toll crosses 3500

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Located at the susceptible juncture of the Eurasian and the Indian tectonic plate, the two giant plates that push up Everest by a few millimetres every year, Nepal has seen its fair share of earthquakes over the years.

Not many as powerful as the earthquake that ripped it apart on Saturday though.

According to an expert the earthquake that wreaked havoc in the Himalayan nation had the power of 20 thermonuclear atomic bombs, the Independent reported.

The impact was amplified due to the shallowness of the epicenter of earthquake. Striking at 10-15 kms from the ground, the tremors were felt more strongly because there was virtually  no earth to absorb the shock.

The aftershocks that followed were no less in impact. The tremor that occurred just half an hour after the main earthquake, struck with a whopping magnitude of 6.6. More than 20 others have followed since.

The only solace is provided by the fact that the disaster could have been even worse. Had the earthquake struck the sand and silt areas of Nepal, instead of the solid bedrock of the most impacted regions, the damage would have been compounded manifold.

Officials say more than 3500 people have lost their lives in the disaster till now. The death toll is expected to rise as the devastation becomes clearer.

Also, an additional 6500 people have been seriously injured according to the National Emergency Operation Centre.

Meanwhile, almost 90 per cent of the army is out on search and rescue operations.

Army spokesman Jagdish Pokhrel said, “Just about every member of Nepal’s 100,000-soldier army is currently involved in rescue operations.”

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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)