By Ram Khatry with Bharat Raj Poudel in Brisbane & Krandan Chapagain in Kathmandu
UPDATED 13 May 2015 07:45 AM AEST: A number of sources confirm a US marine helicopter has gone missing with 8 people on board but it could not be verified with officials of the Government of Nepal due to a time difference with Nepal.
“A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Huey helicopter with six Marines and two Nepalese service members aboard was declared missing today near Charikot, Nepal, Joint Task Force 505 officials reported,” a press release of the US Department of Defense confirmed.
The helicopter was “delivering humanitarian aid to people affected by a recent earthquake and was evacuating casualties back to Kathmandu”.
The Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 helicopter which was based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County went missing from near Charikot in Nepal, KTLA TV said.
Our correspondent Krandan Chapagain said there has been another rush of people seeking to escape Kathmandu by any means possible.
Many people are trying to leave Kathmandu by air to the plains districts in the east and west of the country.
The southasia.com.au continues to attempt re-connecting with officials on the ground and shall bring you the latest as soon as the government officials including the police and army confirm further details.
UPDATED 13 May 2015 00:40 AM AEST: Deputy Inspector General of Police Kamal Singh Bam said his department could now confirm the deaths of 41 victims. When asked about other media outlets reporting a higher number, he explained they might have added numbers through informal sources.
The spokesperson for Nepal Police maintained that this time the ratio of injured people is higher with a total of 1,115 people from various districts being admitted in hospitals across the country.
Most damages happened to structures that were already affected by the April 25 earthquake. They are mostly gone now, he added.
Asked if his country would need international assistance to deal with the latest disaster, DIG Bam noted that would not be necessary as the country was already in a rehabilitation mode following a successful rescue and recovery phase from the previous temblor. He argued that not many needed to be rescued this time indicating not as much resources would be necessary.
In response to southasia.com.au‘s query about the already insufficient number of tents for the victims, he said the government would be able to take care of the situation this time as 70 thousand tents are already on the way from Birgunj. Moreover, temporary houses with tin roofs were being built to offset the demand for tents, he claimed.
To be updated…
12 May 2015 9:33 PM AEST: DIG Kamal Singh Bam of Nepal Police told southasia.com.au that at least 36 people have been confirmed dead due to today’s 7.4 magnitude earthquake.
The highest number of deaths are in Dolakha district where 19 people have lost life.
And 4 have been killed in Kathmandu and 1 in Lalitpur while a total of 430 people have been hospitalised with serious injuries in Kathmandu alone.
5 people have died in Sindhupalchowk district.
All roads are open except those affected by possible landslides, unspecified.
Airport operations have not been affected at all – ZERO EFFECTS ON FLIGHT SCHEDULES.
DIG Bam also confirmed that given the casualties and initial reports, it is safe to assume that at least 32 districts have been affected by today’s earthquake.
12 May 2015 7:26 PM AEST: A major earthquake has shaken Nepal today, less than two weeks since the Himalayan nation was rattled by an epic temblor of 7.8 magnitude, killing over 8,000.
There have been two rounds of tremors – first of 7.4 magnitude with the epicentre of Sunkhani and the second 5.5 magnitude with the epicentre at Namche Bazaar, near Mt Everest.
Experts expect less casualties this time due to the lesser magnitude earthquake and also due to the fact that people were already out and about and most people had abandoned their semi-damaged homes.
Authorities have blocked entry into Araniko Highway past Dolalghat.
Kathmandu not much affected but the north of the city appears to be covered under heavy clouds of dust, appears smokey but could not be verified.
Experts expect less casualties this time due to lesser magnitude of the earthquake and also due to the fact that people were already out and about and, with most people abandoning their semi-damaged homes.
More to come…