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Nepal earthquake: More than 700 dead and tremors felt as far away as Pakistan and India

Published 25/04/2015

Volunteers help with rescue work at the site of a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015.(AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
Volunteers help with rescue work at the site of a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015.(AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
Nepalese rescue members and onlookers gather at the collapsed Darahara Tower in Kathmandu on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMAPRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
In this image from AP video people search in a buildings rubble in Kathmandu, Nepal after a strong earthquake hit the area Saturday April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP video via AP)
Indian residents gather in the street following an earthquake, in Siliguri on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi. AFP PHOTO / Diptendu DUTTADIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images
Residents stand in the street outside their homes following an earthquake, in Siliguri on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi. AFP PHOTO / Diptendu DUTTADIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images
Indian bystanders look at a collapsed house following an earthquake, in Siliguri on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi. AFP PHOTO / Diptendu DUTTADIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images
Nepalese people wheel an injured man into an open area following an 7.9 earthquake, at Lalitpur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMAPRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

At least 700 people have been killed after a powerful earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday.

Houses collapsed, centuries-old temples were levelled and avalanches were triggered in the Himalayas in what was the worst quake to hit the south Asian nation in more than 80 years.

The quake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.9 struck before noon and was most severely felt in the capital Kathmandu as well as the densely populated Kathmandu Valley. Aftershocks continued to ripple through the region for hours.

Dozens of people with injuries were being taken to the main hospital in central Kathmandu.

Tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tibet and India as more than 700 people, including children, were killed in five countries.

The earthquake also shook several cities across northern India and was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan and Lhasa in Tibet - 340 miles east of Kathmandu.

China's state broadcaster that said one Chinese tourist was killed at the Nepal-China border. Television reports from Bangladesh said 2 people were killed and about 100 injured.

Pushpa Das, a labourer, ran from the house when the first quake struck but could not escape a collapsing wall that injured his arm.

"It was very scary. The earth was moving ... I am waiting for treatment but the (hospital) staff is overwhelmed," he said.

The quake's epicentre was 50 miles north-west of Kathmandu and it had a depth of only seven miles, which is considered shallow in geological terms. The shallower the quake, the more destructive power it carries.

As the ground began to shake, several buildings collapsed in the centre of the capital, the ancient Old Kathmandu, including centuries-old temples and towers, said resident Prachanda Sual.

Among them was the Dharahara Tower, one of Kathmandu's landmarks built by Nepal's royal rulers in the 1800s and a Unesco-recognised historical monument. It was reduced to rubble and there were reports of people trapped underneath.

While the extent of the damage and the scale of the disaster are yet to be ascertained, the quake will likely put a huge strain on the resources of this poor country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world.

The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, is heavily dependent on tourism, principally trekking and Himalayan mountain climbing.

The US Geological Survey revised the magnitude from 7.5 to 7.9 and said the quake hit at 11.56am local time (6.11am GMT) at Lamjung.

Nepal suffered its worst recorded earthquake in 1934, which measured eight and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

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