Aftershocks sent people dashing into the streets Tuesday as rains and flooding hampered rescue workers in areas devastated by the powerful quake that has claimed more than 900 lives in Nepal and India.
Residents panicked and scurried into the streets early Tuesday after a temblor centered in Sindhuli, 60 miles northeast of the Nepalese capital, shook Katmandu, officials said. The quake registered 5 on the Richter scale.Authorities in Nepal and India had said they feared aftershocks from Sunday's powerful quake could trigger landslides in the mountainous region along the Nepal-India border where the earthquake struck and increase the death toll.
The official National News Agency of Nepal said the quake hindered rail service in southeast Nepal between Janakpu and Bijalpur. It reported flooding in Sunsari, the hardest hit area, and Dharan, the inscription center for Gurkas into the British army.
Many villages were submerged under water, hindering relief efforts, the agency said.
"Rescue efforts are being hampered by rains," said Tek Bahadur Thapa of the Home Ministry.
Government officials feared the outbreak of epidemics in central and east Nepal that has been heightened by heavy rains, but there were no immediate reports.
Several villages in east Nepal were leveled by Sunday's tremor and rescue efforts in Dhankuta were hampered because the town's only hospital collapsed from the quake, newspaper reports said.
The Home Ministry in Nepal put the official number of dead at 497, India reported 450 dead in Bihar state and 50 were feared to have drowned from waves that capsized their boats in Bangladesh. But a senior official in Katmandu working on relief efforts said the toll had reached 600 in Nepal, and some reports that could not be verified indicated as many as 900 dead in India.
Residents that survived Sunday's quake in Munger, India, said the town looked like it had been "bombarded." Town elders compared the damage to that of a quake in 1934, the last major tremor to hit the region.
"The whole night was punctuated by shrieks of people who feared the effects of aftershocks and others shouting to invoke God," said one resident.
"Before I could realize what was happening there was a rumbling sound and the roof came down on top of me," said medical student Arun Gupta, who was sleeping in a hostel when the quake struck. Gupta, who was seriously injured, spoke from his hospital bed.
The Indian Red Cross said it sent three medical teams to Bihar state and will send up to seven more teams. It reported dispatching $72,000 in rice, cooking oil, clothing, tents and medical supplies.
Sunday's quake was measured at 6.7 on the Richter scale by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Nepalese Department of Mines and Minerals said it registered 5.7.
The quake was felt along a 450-mile-wide, 1,000-mile-long band that stretched from northern Nepal to Calcutta, India, in the south and from New Delhi in the west to the Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh in the east.