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

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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