Nepalis relive terror as new earthquake strikes

Local residents evacuate onto a street minutes after a fresh 7.3 earthquake struck, in central Kathmandu, Nepal, May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Local residents evacuate onto a street minutes after a fresh 7.3 earthquake struck, in central Kathmandu, Nepal, May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SANGACHOWK, Nepal (REUTERS) - Ashok Parajuli watched his house in Sangachowk village, about three hours by road from Nepal's capital Kathmandu, slide down a hill on Tuesday, as a 7.3 earthquake hit the Himalayan nation just weeks after another major quake had killed thousands.

"We watched it go down slowly, slowly," said Parajuli, 30, as he sat with his family by the roadside, the rubble from his house spread over a large area below.

Parajuli said he had taken out a US$30,000 (S$40,000) loan on the house, and now could not afford to rebuild.

"The bank we took the loan from was damaged too, but not as badly as our house."

Nepalis have been living under constant fear over the past few weeks, as dozens of aftershocks followed in the days after the April 25 earthquake caused devastation across the country.

More than 8,000 people died and hundreds of thousands of buildings were destroyed by last month's 7.8 magnitude quake, making it the worst to hit Nepal in more than 80 years.

On Tuesday, after a period of relative calm during which people had begun to start rebuilding their lives, a fresh tremor and at least six aftershocks forced them to relive the terror.

By evening, 66 people were confirmed dead and more than 1,000 injured.

The quake hit the mountainous region near the border with Tibet and Mount Everest, triggering landslides and destroying several buildings.

Its tremors could be felt as far as neighbouring India, Bangladesh and China.

A Nepalese Army spokesman said Dolakha district, close to the epicentre, was one of the worst affected by the latest quake.

In Charikot, the district capital some 80km to the north-east of Kathmandu, a resort owner said he could see clouds of dust from falling houses when the quake hit.

"We saw houses falling, collapsing along the ridge," said Top Thapa, a 64-year-old owner of the Charikot Panorama Resort.

His restaurant building also collapsed, but no one was hurt at his resort.

Twenty people died in Charikot, said Ajay K.C., a police officer.

"We have pulled six people alive out of the ruins of fallen houses. Many buildings have collapsed - even concrete buildings have fallen down," K.C. said.

In Sindhupalchowk, one of the worst-affected districts in last month's quake, Tuesday's tremors triggered fresh landslides and toppled buildings.

An aid worker said at least 11 people had died and 100 were seriously injured in the district.

The main road to Chautara, the district capital, was blocked by rocks, bricks and other debris. Buildings were tilting dangerously.

In the centre of town, the streets were deserted but one shop was open. Inside, Sushima Ghale was grabbing some of her possessions by candlelight, preparing to leave.

"I am not sleeping in here. My heart is beating too fast," Ghale said. "No one should stay in tonight."

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