NEW DELHI, April 26 – An aftershock measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale hit Nepal at 2.10pm local time sending tremors across the country and once again forcing temporary closure of the Kathmandu International Airport. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and the US Geological Survey confirmed the aftershock’s epicenter at about 77 kilometres from Kathmandu.
The latest tremor caused panic and mayhem among thousands of displaced residents who have been seeking shelter on the streets and open spaces. Ripples of the aftershock was also felt in much of north India with the ground in Delhi rattling for about 30 seconds and power failure reported at several parts of the capital.
The strong aftershock briefly halted relief operations in Nepal and more aftershocks have been predicted by the IMD and Nepal authorities. It was reported that the latest aftershock once again triggered fresh avalanche at the Mount Everest region after yesterday’s 7.9 magnitude earthquake saw fatalities rising to more than 1,800 and causing immense devastation.
A Nepali official told NDTV news channel that the airport has been closed temporarily since ground crew need to check on the condition of the runway before allowing aircrafts to land. All aircraft movement has been temporarily halted up to 4pm (Nepal time) pending further instruction, said the official.
This prompted an Air India flight carrying 131 passengers enroute to Kathmandu to return to the Indra Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. The aftershock also forced prime minister Narindra Modi to call for a high-level meeting with his senior officials here in the capital to discuss further assistance to the Nepali government.
Meanwhile, the Indian authorities confirmed that many mountaineers were stranded at Base Camp 1 and 2 and the search and rescue team from the Indian Army had already retrieved 18 bodies since yesterday. As at 3pm (Kathmandu time) today, officials confirmed that the death toll had breached 2,000 and more than 5,000 people injured.