More than 150 dead as massive earthquake jolts western Nepal

Damaged houses lie in ruins, in the aftermath of an earthquake in Jajarkot district, Nepal on 4 November 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)
Damaged houses lie in ruins, in the aftermath of an earthquake in Jajarkot district, Nepal on 4 November 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)

The death toll from a massive earthquake that struck remote western Nepal on Friday has climbed to more than 150. The deadly earthquake struck around 11.47pm local time, and has also injured at least 140 people.

According to Nepal’s home affairs ministry, at least 95 have died in Jajarkot while the death toll in West Rukum is more than 40 so far.

Nepal’s National Earthquake Monitoring and Research Centre noted that the epicentre was in Jajarkot district in the remote western part of the country. The centre also noted that there were around 159 aftershocks following the deadly tremor.

On Saturday morning, rescue helicopters arrived in the area to provide assistance, local media reported. The ground security forces were also continuing efforts to free the injured and recover the dead from the debris, according to Nepal police spokesperson Kuber Kadayat.

Several videos shared on social media showed residents sifting through the rubble in darkness to find any survivors amidst the ruins of homes.

The earthquake was reported to be of 6.4 magnitude, according to Nepal’s National Seismological Centre. The German Research Centre for Geosciences measured it at 5.7 and the US Geological Survey at 5.6, according to Reuters.

Numerous houses either crumbled to the ground or suffered severe damage in the deadly earthquake, which was also followed by at least 159 aftershocks, according to The Indian Express, leaving survivors huddled in the open air.

“The number of injured could be in the hundreds and the deaths could go up as well,” Jajarkot district official Harish Chandra Sharma said. Tremors were also felt in New Delhi, some 300 miles from the epicentre.

The prime minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was on his way to the incident site on Saturday morning. On X/Twitter, he expressed his “deep sorrow over the human and material damage”. Both Nepalese army and police personnel have been mobilised to carry out rescue works.

“Houses have collapsed. People rushed out of their homes. I am out in the crowd of terrified residents. We are trying to find details of damage,” police official Santosh Rokka was quoted as saying by Reuters earlier. The tremor and its subsequent aftershocks caused landslides that blocked paths for the rescue teams, it was reported.

Nepal is an earthquake-prone country given its positioning in the Himalayas. Last month, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the western district of Bajhang, causing injuries. And in 2015, Nepal experienced two catastrophic earthquakes that claimed the lives of 9,000 people and left 22,309 injured.

Additional reporting with agencies