A 8.1 magnitude earthquake centered less than 50 miles from Kathmandu rocked Nepal with devastating force early Saturday, killing at least 688 people -- and probably more -- in Nepal’s capital city, authorities said。
Kathmandu, which sits in a valley surrounded by the Himalayas, has a population of 1 million people. Historic buildings in Kathmandu lay in rubble on the ground. The injured were being treated outside hospitals in chaotic scenes. Residents, terrorized by a seemingly endless series of aftershocks, huddled outdoors。
The death toll was reported by Laxmi Dhakal, a spokesperson for Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs. But given that the rescue effort is still in its early stages and that people in outlying areas may well have been affected, as well, it seems probable that the number will rise。
CNN’s Manesh Shrestha said he saw five bodies at a hospital to which he walked to seek treatment for his own injuries. People with severe injuries were lying outside, with doctors administering CPR to at least one person, Shrestha said. "It’s quite chaotic," he said by phone. "People are wailing, crying."
Shrestha, who needed stitches, was turned away because other people were in more dire need of care. He said he saw people with broken bones and severe head injuries。
The quake, which struck at 11:41 local time (05:51 GMT).occurred at a depth of 9.3 miles, which is considered shallow and more damaging than a quake centered deeper under the earth’s crust. It was reported by people in the area as having lasted a very long time. On person said he felt as if he were on a ship in rough seas。
The U.S. Geological Survey had at first rated the temblor at 7.5 magnitude but later upgraded the strength. It reported aftershocks of 6.6 and 5.1 magnitude, among many others others. In all, the USGS said, at least 15 aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater had been felt in Nepal so far。
One witness told CNN by phone that people were gathered outdoors in fear. Another said via Facebook that power was out and people were listening for news on their car radios。
"We are scared and waiting for the tremors to end," one said on Facebook chat from Kathmandu. "We are all sitting outside because there is more news of another quake. "There is no power and families are listening to the FM radio inside their cars," he said. "News of multiple building collapses. I’ve seen many cracked walls and roads and buildings. There are police everywhere trying to move rubble to make space on the roads for ambulances. Everyone is very scared."