No fewer than 143 people were killed in an overnight earthquake that struck a remote pocket of Nepal, officials said Saturday, as security forces rushed to assist with rescue efforts.
The 5.6-magnitude quake hit isolated western districts of the Himalayan Republic late Friday and was measured by the US Geological Survey at just 18 kilometres (11 miles) deep. The force of the tremor jolted households awake and flattened mud houses in communities across the impact site.
“It came when we were sleeping,” Kamala Oli, a woman cradling her infant child at a hospital treating survivors, told AFP.
“There were three of us in the house. Only two of us lived,” she added, without giving further details.
Dozens of survivors with fractures and head injuries were raced for treatment to a hospital in Nepalgunj, a small city near the Indian border.
Footage of the quake’s aftermath posted on social media showed locals digging through rubble in the dark to pull survivors from the wreckage of collapsed homes and buildings, as others crouched outside for safety.
The quake was felt as far away as India’s capital New Delhi, nearly 500 kilometres from the epicentre.
“105 people have died in Jajarkot and 38 in Rukum,” national police spokesman Kuber Kathayat told AFP, referring to the two districts hit worst by the quake.
Authorities had tallied more than 100 others injured across both districts, he added.
Security forces have been deployed on foot and in helicopters to assist with search and rescue operations.