On Saturday, April 26, 2015 shortly before noon (local time) Nepal and its bordering countries suffered a 7.8 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter just 50 miles northwest of Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu. It was classified as a IX violent earthquake and lasted approximately 20 seconds,
Thus far, 7,759 deaths have been confirmed, with 1,209 in Kathmandu alone; 3,000 deaths were reported in Sindupalchowk, the district of Nepal which suffered the most damage. In addition to the 7,652 deaths reported in Nepal, 78 died in India, 25 in China and 4 in Bangladesh. There were a total of 80 foreign casualties in Nepal from the countries of India, France, China, Germany, Italy, The United States, Canada, Russia, Australia, Estonia, The United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zeland and Spain. Due to the seismic activity, Mount Everest experienced avalanches on Saturday which killed 19 people and made April 26, 2015 the most deadly day on Mt. Everest in history. Bodies of the deceased were able to be recovered by helicopters from base camps.
A powerful aftershock occurred in the region on Sunday, which could be felt in Nepal, India and Bangladesh and led to more avalanches atop Mt. Everest. Twenty-nine districts throughout the area have been declared crisis zones and approximately 900 of the 1,000 homes in the Nepal villages of Laprak and Barpak were completely destroyed.
The Dharara Tower, a landmark which was constructed during the 19th century by rulers of Nepal, was also reduced to rubble by the earthquake, killing at least 180 people who were inside or nearby the tower when the earthquake struck. Many centuries-old building were destroyed, including several temples and churches which collapsed, killing those inside.
While rescue workers did all they could, many living and inured citizens remained trapped beneath crumbled buildings for several days. Rescue workers found survivors buried in the rubble as long as one week after the initial earthquake. Four men who were trapped beneath close to 10 feet (3 meters) of debris for several days were found alive thanks to new NASA technology known as ‘FINDER’, a heartbeat detection device. It is capable of detecting a human heartbeat through as much as 30 feet (9 meters) of rubble, 20 feet (7 meters) of concrete or 100 feet (30 meters) of open space.
In the immediate aftermath, corpses were left lying on the street, covered by sheets, waiting to be identified or placed onto ferries traveling to hospitals in Kathmandu. Unfortunately, these hospitals struggled to keep up with both caring for the injured, and housing victims’ bodies.
Helicopters managed to retrieve injured climbers on Mount Everest that were able to make it to a base camp. Several roads paved across the base of the mountain have either cracked open or were buried in the avalanche and made routes impassable for rescue personnel. The April 2015 earthquake caused the most devastation this region has experienced since the Bihar-Nepal Earthquake in 1934 which killed 8,500 people.
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