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An earthquake that shook northwestern Nepal just before midnight Friday left at least 128 people dead and injured dozens more, officials said Saturday. Authorities said the death toll was expected to rise.
Rescue helicopters flew into the northwestern region to help out and security forces on the ground were digging out the injured and dead from the rubble, Nepal police spokesman Kuber Kadayat said. Troops have also begun clearing roads and mountain trails that were blocked by landslides triggered by the earthquake.
The quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey said had a preliminary magnitude of 5.6, hit when many people were already asleep in their homes. It was also felt in India’s capital, New Delhi, more than 500 miles away. Neighboring India offered to help in the rescue efforts.
The quake’s epicenter was in Jajarkot district, where 92 people were confirmed dead and 55 others injured, Kadayat said. The quake killed at least 36 people in neighboring Rukum district, and at least 85 injured people were taken to the local hospital, he said.
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This screen grab from video shows villagers stand in front of their damaged houses from last night earthquake in Jagarkot, Nepal, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. Helicopters and ground troops rushed to help people hurt in a strong earthquake that shook northwestern Nepal districts just before midnight Friday, killing more than hun people and injuring dozens dozens more, officials said Saturday. (Sabin Dhamala via AP)
Helicopters flew in medical workers and medicines to the hospitals there. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal also flew in on a helicopter with a team of doctors.
Security officials worked through the night in the darkness to rescue villagers and pull the dead from fallen houses.
Bimal Kumar Karki, a survivor who was taken to a regional hospital in the city of Nepalgunj, said his whole house collapsed: “I was fast asleep when all of a sudden it started shaking violently. I tried to run but the whole house collapsed. I tried escaping but half my body got buried in the debris.”
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ANKARA, TURKIYE – MARCH 06: An infographic titled “Economic damage of major earthquakes in the world reaches trillions of dollars” created in Ankara, Turkiye on March 06, 2023. While the severe earthquakes that have occurred in the world in the last 50 years led to the death of tens of thousands of people, the economic damage of these quakes has neared $1 trillion. (Omar Zaghloul/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
He added: “I screamed, but every one of my neighbors were in the same situation and screaming for help. It took nearly a half hour to an hour before rescuers found me.”
Nepal’s National Earthquake Monitoring & Research Center said its epicenter was at Jajarkot, which is about 250 miles northeast of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.
Nepal. Kathmandu. Thamel. (Giovanni Mereghetti/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared on social media that he was deeply saddened by the loss of lives and damage due to the earthquake in Nepal.
“India stands in solidarity with the people of Nepal and is ready to extend all possible assistance,” Modi said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.