SHOCKING aerial photos show villages turned to rubble after Nepal’s monster earthquake, as rescuers dig through debris in Kathmandu.
Former Nepalese Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai shared images on Facebookof homes in the Gorkha region demolished after Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
Officials said more than 2500 people have died, possibly including one Australian, and more than 6200 were injured after the quake tore through large parts of Nepal, levelling homes, toppling office blocks and triggering deadly avalanches at Everest base camp.
The death toll in India stands at 67, while Chinese officials say 18 people had been killed in the Tibet region.
As rescuers sift through the rubble searching for survivors, grief-stricken Nepalese are holding mass cremations in the devastated capital.
The horrific quake, the Himalayan nation’s worst disaster in more than 80 years, was followed by powerful aftershocks, including a including a 6.7 magnitude monster on Sunday.
The US Geological Survey reports the shock, which occurred in the Kathmandu region, registered at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres.
There are still grave fears for the safety of dozens of Australians travelling in Nepal.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said there were more than 500 Australians registered as travelling in Nepal, with the safety of 200 confirmed.
AFP’s Nepal bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly, on an assignment at base camp, reported that six helicopters had managed to reach the mountain on Sunday morning after the weather had improved overnight.
Hospitals were so stretched on Sunday that medics had set up tents outside the buildings to treat patients.
Snowfalls on Saturday had thwarted efforts to airlift survivors from Everest base camp, where hundreds of mountaineers were gathered at the start of the annual climbing season, cancelled last year after the deaths of the 16 sherpa guides.
Offers of help have poured in from governments around the world, with the US and European Union announcing they were sending in disaster response teams. India flew out its stranded citizens in military planes.
“We have deployed all our resources for search and rescues,” Singh Bam said.
“Helicopters have been sent to remote areas. We are sifting through the rubble where buildings have collapsed to see if we can find anyone.”
The European Commission has released three million euros ($4.2 million) in emergency aid for Nepal, is in addition to assistance offered by individual EU nations and the deployment of European Commission humanitarian aid and civil protection experts to the crisis area.
“The commission’s emergency aid will go towards the most urgent needs in the worst affected areas, including clean water, medicine, emergency shelter and telecommunications,” the EU’s executive arm said in a statement on Sunday.
“I have mobilised all our means for emergency response to help the survivors and authorities in the aftermath of this tragedy. What is needed most are medical teams and relief supplies. I call on all EU member states to join the co-ordinated European response,” EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated, via which member states including Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden immediately offered search and rescue teams, water purification systems and technical assistance.
Other member states have also expressed their willingness to help, the commission statement said.
Among the people who died at Everest was Google executive Dan Fredinburg.
A woman who identified herself as Fredinburg’s younger sister, Megan, posted on Fredinburg’s Instagram page that he suffered a major head injury in the avalanche that was triggered by the quake.
Fredinburg — who was head of privacy for Google X, the company’s top-secret ideas lab — was featured in an article in the Guardianearlier this month about his travels.
Google confirmed his death. Lawrence You, the company’s director of privacy, posted online that Fredinburg was in Nepal with three other Google employees climbing Mount Everest.
The other three, he added, are safe. Google would not give further details.
Earlier, a Romanian mountaineer at Everest posted that many “badly injured” people caught in the avalanche could die unless helicopters arrived soon.
HOW BAD IS THE DAMAGE?
The magnitude-7.8 quake was the worst to hit Nepal in eight decades and caused damage and fatalities in neighbouring countries as well.
The earthquake hit a heavily populated area of Nepal, including the capital, Kathmandu, and its impact spread far beyond the Kathmandu Valley.
Earthquake experts are preparing for high numbers in terms of deaths and damage.
“This is a very large earthquake in a significantly populated region with infrastructure that has been damaged in past earthquakes,” U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle said. “Significant fatalities are expected.”
Local hospitals were already filling with injured residents, and Kathmandu’s international airport was shut down, hampering initial relief efforts in the isolated mountainous country.
WHAT HAPPENED? AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Seismologist Earle said the quake happened on what is known as a “thrust fault.” That describes the situation when one piece of the Earth’s crust is moving beneath another piece.
In this case, it’s the Indian Plate that is moving north at 45 millimetres (1.7 inches) a year under the Eurasian Plate to the north, Earle said. It’s a different type of earthquake than the one that caused the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
“This is what builds the Himalayan mountain range,” Earle said.
The region and particular fault has a history of damaging earthquakes, including four temblors with magnitudes greater than 6.0 in the past 100 years, Earle said, warning that landslides are a particular worry now, given the steep slopes in the region.
WHAT DOES ‘RED ALERT’ ISSUED BY US OFFICIALS MEAN?
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was strong enough to merit a “red alert” for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. It said that “high casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past red alerts have required a national or international response.”
Quick USGS calculations estimate a two-thirds likelihood of between 1000 and 100,000 fatalities and damage between $100 million and $10 billion. Scientists estimate that more than 105 million people felt at least moderate shaking during the quake.