A powerful earthquake in Nepal’s western region has resulted in a tragic loss of life, with reports confirming that at least 157 individuals have died and approximately 100 more have sustained injuries. The earthquake, which was characterized by its shallow depth, occurred at 11:47 pm local time (18:02 GMT) on Friday, with its epicenter located in the hilly district of Jajarkot.
Situated about 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of the capital city, Kathmandu, Jajarkot is home to approximately 190,000 residents who were deeply impacted by this devastating event.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake was measured at a magnitude of 5.6 and had a shallow depth of just 18 kilometers (11 miles). The seismic shocks were felt over a wide area, with reports of tremors being experienced in distant locations such as Kathmandu and even as far as 600 kilometers (375 miles) away in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
The AFP news agency quoted Karnali Province police spokesman Gopal Chandra Bhattarai as saying that the death toll had reached 119, and a minimum of 100 individuals had suffered injuries. In Jajarkot district, local official Harish Chandra Sharma reported that at least 34 people had lost their lives, while in the neighboring Rukum West district, police official Namaraj Bhattarai indicated that at least 35 fatalities had been recorded.
Bhattarai explained that rescue and search teams were confronted with the task of clearing roads that had been obstructed by dry landslides resulting from the earthquake to reach the affected areas.
Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, writing on social media platform X, conveyed his profound condolences for the human and physical devastation brought about by the earthquake. He issued directives for security agencies to initiate immediate rescue and relief operations in response to the crisis.
Media footage revealed the collapsed exteriors of brick houses, with sizable furniture fragments strewn across the ground. According to local authorities, they had not been able to make contact with regions in close proximity to the earthquake’s epicenter, located in Ramidanda.
Police official Santosh Rokka, speaking to the Reuters news agency via phone, reported that houses had crumbled, prompting residents to hastily evacuate their homes. He described being amidst a gathering of apprehensive locals, all striving to gather information about the extent of the damage.
In Jajarkot district, at least 20 individuals were swiftly transported to hospitals due to injuries, as informed by district official Suresh Sunar to Reuters. Sunar added that he was currently located outdoors himself, engaged in the collection of details, but the challenging factors included the cold weather and the obscurity of remote areas during the nighttime.
Nepal is situated on a significant geological fault line, where the Indian tectonic plate converges with the Eurasian plate, giving rise to the Himalayan mountain range. As a result, earthquakes are frequent events in this region.
In 2015, Nepal experienced the devastating consequences of two powerful earthquakes, claiming the lives of approximately 9,000 people. These earthquakes not only resulted in widespread loss of life but also led to the destruction of entire towns, centuries-old temples, and numerous historic sites. The seismic activity left more than a million houses in ruins, leaving a lasting impact on the nation’s infrastructure and communities.
हिजो राति गएको विनासकारी भूकम्पको क्षति बुझ्न, घाइतेहरूको उद्दार र पीडितको राहतका निम्ति प्रभावित क्षेत्रमा छु। पीडितलाई राहत र घाइतेहरूको उपचारका लागि सरकार गम्भीर रहेको जानकारी गराउँदै यस कार्यमा सहकार्य र हातेमालोका लागि सम्पूर्ण राजनीतिक दल र नागरिक समाजमा अपील गर्दछु। pic.twitter.com/P9jGJ0lBOa
— ☭ Comrade Prachanda (@cmprachanda) November 4, 2023