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Powerful earthquake hits western Nepal, 6 killed

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KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 9: At least 6 persons were killed when a powerful 6.6-magnitude earthquake jolted the remote mountainous region of western Nepal early Wednesday, close to where Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was campaigning for the upcoming elections.
According to the National Seismological Centre, the earthquake occurred at 2:12 a.m. with its epicentre at Khaptad National Park in the Doti district of the quake-prone Himalayan nation, damaging scores of houses and sparking panic among the people who were sleeping.
Six persons were killed and 8 others injured in the earthquake, Home Ministry spokesperson Phanindra Pokharel told PTI over phone.
He said that the Government has instructed the local administration to immediately distribute relief materials and compensation to the victims. The kin of those killed will be provided Rs. 200,000 per head as compensation, he said.
The 8 injured have been admitted to district Hospital in Doti while 2 others who sustained serious injuries have been airlifted to Seti Zonal Hospital in Dhangadhi, according to Home Ministry sources.
At least 10 houses were completely damaged in the quake, they said.
According to Nepal Army spokesperson Narayan Silwal, 3 persons were missing and are believed to have been trapped in the housing collapse in Purvichauki. The Nepal Army has started searching for the missing persons, he said.
Prime Minister Deuba who is in western Nepal for an election campaign is safe. He was attending election rallies and meeting people at Dhangadhi district, 160 km south of the epicentre.
The tremor was also felt in Dhangadhi though the Prime Minister is safe, according to Pokharel.
Adjustments will be made regarding the election campaign of the Prime Minister in western Nepal keeping in mind the incident, he added.
Nepal will be going for elections for the federal Parliament as well as the provincial Assemblies on November 20.
Deuba has instructed officials to arrange immediate and proper treatment of injured in the earthquake-affected areas.
“I pay homage to those killed in the Dadeldhura earthquake and my condolences to the bereaved family members”, Deuba tweeted.
“I also instruct the concerned authorities to speed up rescue and relief works and treatment of those injured in the incident”, he added.
The Nepal Army and the Nepal Police personnel have been mobilised to carry out rescue operations.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Bhola Bhatta, the acting chief at the District Police Office in Doti, said that all the victims were killed by the debris of the houses damaged during the earthquake.
The identities of the deceased have been established of which 2 are women, 2 men, and 2 minors, Bhatta was quoted as saying by the Himalayan Times newspaper.
The earthquake sent people in the mountain villages panicking out of their houses and many spent the entire night out in the open, officials said.
Over 200 aftershocks of the Doti earthquake were recorded till 1 p.m. local time, said Rajesh Sharma, Assistant technician at the Seismological Centre, Surkhet said.
Images shared by the Nepal Army showed rescue operations by them to find the victims buried by the earthquake-damaged houses. Videos posted on social media showed villagers moving debris by hand and trying to retrieve their belongings.
A spokesperson of the Nepali Army said that the injured were rescued by a team of security personnel, including the Nepali Army and taken to the Doti Hospital by helicopter.
They were rescued by helicopter from Dhangadhi in Surkhet and Kailali. Along with the rescue, a team has been deployed in the area for those who urgently need food and tents, according to the Army.
The tremors were also felt in neighbouring Dhangadhi and Kailali districts. The earthquake that was felt mildly in Kathmandu and parts of India has also caused damage to dozens of other houses in the district.
Earlier, a 5.7-magnitude tremor was recorded at 9.07 p.m. and another 4.1-magnitude tremor at 9.56 p.m. on Tuesday at the same epicentre, according to the Seismological Centre.
Earthquakes are frequent in mountainous Nepal.
On October 19, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and adjoining areas, forcing many people to rush out of their homes for safety.
The earthquake was felt in the Kathmandu Valley and neighbouring districts. There was no report of any damage or casualties.
In April 2015, a devastating earthquake of 7.8-magnitude rocked Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people and wounding nearly 22,000 others. It also damaged over 800,000 houses and school buildings.
(PTI)

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