Nepal Prime Minister’s Office/AP
This handout photo provided by the Nepal Prime Minister’s Office shows an earthquake-hit area in northwestern Nepal, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.
An earthquake that struck a remote part of northwestern Nepal on Friday night killed at least 157 people and collapsed several buildings, according to police, with officials warning that the death toll could rise.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake measured 5.6 on the Richter scale and struck about 42 kilometers (about 26 miles) from Jumla in Nepal’s Karnali province. It struck at a relative depth of 18 kilometers and tremors were felt as far as India’s capital, New Delhi.
“We are now focusing only on search and rescue operations,” Nepal Police spokesman Kuber Kadayat told CNN on Saturday. “That is why we still do not have a proper assessment of collapsed and damaged houses and other infrastructure. In some villages, 90% of the houses collapsed.
According to Gadayat, 157 people have been killed and 170 injured so far, the worst since Friday’s tremors in 2015.
In Jajarkot district, near the epicenter, 105 people died and 55 were injured. In nearby Ruk West district, 52 people were killed and 85 injured, Kadayat said.
Footage from Reuters showed several houses in Jajarkot smashed with bricks and timber.
Army soldiers carry an injured man on a stretcher after the earthquake in Jajarkot, Nepal on November 4, 2023.
Earthquakes are common in Nepal, which forms the high Himalayan mountain range where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck in 2015, killing at least 9,000 people, damaging about a million homes and buildings across the country and causing $6 billion in damage.
Officials told Reuters they were unable to establish contact in the mountainous area near the epicenter, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu, because they feared more casualties from Friday’s quake.
“The number of injured may be in the hundreds and the death toll may rise,” Jajarkot district official Harish Chandra Sharma told Reuters by phone.
“Many houses have collapsed and many more have developed cracks. “Thousands of residents spent the night in the cold, open air as they were too afraid to go inside houses that had cracked as the aftershocks hit,” Sharma added.
Jajarkot district has a population of 190,000 villages scattered in remote hills. Images released by the AFP news agency show survivors gathering at Jajarkot’s main hospital.
Nepal Prime Minister’s Office/Handbook/Reuters
A damaged building is seen after the earthquake in Jajarkot, Nepal on November 4, 2023.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his condolences to the relatives of those who died in the earthquake.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of life and damage caused by the earthquake in Nepal,” Modi wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “India stands in solidarity with the people of Nepal and is ready to extend all assistance. Our thoughts are with the bereaved families and we wish the injured a speedy recovery.
This is a developing story and will be updated