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7.8 Magnitude Nepal Earthquake Kills At Least 2,200 (Video/Pics)
A British climber stranded on Mount Everest following earthquake-triggered avalanches has said he fears a 'race against time' for those awaiting rescue.
James Grieve, 52, told a newspaper over a satellite phone from Camp One on the world's highest peak that the rescue effort was being hampered by storms and the party's supplies would last only a few more days.
He was speaking as terrifying amateur video footage emerged of a massive avalanche – triggered by the quake - hitting Everest base camp.
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Amateur video footage shows how a group of climbers ran for their lives as the Nepal earthquake hit at Everest Base Camp yesterday
Climbers, including several Britons, have been cut off from it.
Nepal's mountaineering department said at least 18 people had been killed and 61 were injured in the avalanche, while an unknown number were still missing.
Mr Grieve, of Kinross, Scotland, told The Sun: 'Everyone is apprehensive about what's happening and what will happen in the next 24 hours. We have a few days of food and drink left. Our tents have all been lost and we have around 18 dead bodies at base camp.
'Rescue teams are struggling to get us help due to the weather and the next few days' forecasts are not great. There is a lot of confusion in the cap and there are still about 120 of us here waiting to be rescued.
'We are in a race against time to get off the mountain.'
He estimated up to 50 people had been killed and said there was a plan for helicopters to rescue them today, although 'the choppers are only taking two people off at a time'.
He said he believed it could be Wednesday when they would be brought to safety but warned of a forecast metre of snow which could set search teams back.
The paper said he was in a party with fellow British climbers Alex Staniforth, 19, of Chester, expedition leader Daniel Mazur, from Bristol and Sam and Alex Chappatte, from London.
On Twitter yesterday, Mr Staniforth's UK-based support team revealed the difficulty caused by the weather.
Fear was etched on the faces of the climbers as they saw the cloud of snow and debris hurtling towards the camp in the Himalayas
Amateur video footage shows a huge wall of snow and debris hurtling towards Everest Base Camp as climbers run for cover
Climbers ran for their lives and then took refuge in their tents and waited for the cloud of snow to pass
They said: 'Alex has just texted via sat phone. They will spend another night at C1. Weather has drawn in making it too difficult to fly choppers.'
After the 6.7-magnitude aftershock, Mr Mazur tweeted: 'Aftershock @ 1pm! Horrible here in camp 1. Avalanches on 3 sides. C1 a tiny island. We worry about icefall team below.. Alive?'
He later said: 'Icefall scouts back w/ news: GOOD: route is there. BAD: it sustained damage. V BAD: icefall Sherpas bc gone; ran away to Namche!'
The horrifying video of an avalanche hitting Base Camp was taken by climber Jost Kobusch, who worked in the Special Forces in the German Mountain Army. He said he felt the ground shaking and saw people sprinting away from the cloud of snow.
CCTV footage has also emerged of the moment the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck a home on Ichangu Narayan hill in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
Families across the world are scrambling to find information about loved ones still missing in the Himalayas.
The death toll has risen past 3,200, with Nepalese officials speculating it could reach 10,000. More than 6,000 have been injured across the region.
The immense force of the quake can be seen in the surveillance footage as the trees are shown shaking violently from side-to-side.
Video footage shows climbers emerging from their tents to find the Everest Base Camp flattened
Rescuers in Nepal are searching frantically for survivors of the huge earthquake, which is believed to have killed 2,500
A rescue helicopter prepares to land and airlift the injured from Everest Base Camp the day after the avalanche
A rescue chopper prepares to land, carrying people from higher camps to Everest Base Camp in Nepal
A person critically injured in the avalanche is carried on a stretcher to be evacuated out of Everest Base Camp
James Grieve, 52, told a newspaper over a satellite phone from Camp One on the world's highest peak that the rescue effort was being hampered by storms
Family members can also be seen running for cover as roof tiles smash onto the garden below.
As many as 18 climbers, including three Americans, and sherpas are feared dead after the series of avalanches at Everest Base Camp.
The video of the avalanche, which has been viewed almost 1,000 times of YouTube, shows climbers taking refuge in their tents.
One climber can be heard saying: 'The ground is shaking.'
The camera then pans round just as the massive wall of snow starts speeding towards them.
On Sunday night, Deputy Inspector General of the Kathmandu police Komal Singh Bam said on Monday that the death toll had risen to 3,218 people but he gave no further details.
Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal said tents and water were being handed out on Monday at 10 locations in Kathmandu, but that aftershocks were leaving everyone jittery.
'There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult. Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them,' he said.
Tens of thousands spent the night sleeping in parks or on a golf course. Others camped in open squares lined by cracked buildings and piles of rubble.
'We don't feel safe at all. There have been so many aftershocks. It doesn't stop,' said Rajendra Dhungana, 34, who spent the day with his niece's family for her cremation at the Pashuputi Nath Temple in Katmandu. 'I've watched hundreds of bodies burn.'
A newly married couple and a pregnant woman are among dozens of climbers and travellers who were caught up in the devastating earthquake.
Alex Chappatte and her new husband Sam wrote of their terror as avalanches broke around them and they were forced to take shelter at their camp half-way up the world's tallest mountain.
Other adventurers described seeing 'car-sized boulders' as Everest shook for two minutes as a result of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake - but dozens of climbers have still not been heard from after the disaster.
Desperate relatives have posted pictures and descriptions of loved ones online in the hope they can be found as the death toll continues to grow.
In Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, the bodies of those buried alive have been laid in the street beneath white sheets. Their grieving relatives have prepared them for cremation, setting up make-shift funeral pyres in the city's open spaces.
The death toll has reached 56 in India, most of them from Bihar state, while 17 Chinese nationals in Tibet also died.
Those who managed to get away from the epicenter were met with chaos at transport hubs, with flights being diverted away from Tribhuvan International Airport.
An aftershock struck the region early this morning, shaking even more buildings across India and Nepal and prompting fears for the hundreds of climbers who are still stranded on the world's highest peak.
The violent shake was one of 60 aftershocks which have hit the region in the past 36 hours following Saturday's 7.8 earthquake.
The quake - the biggest to hit the country since 1934 - reduced the historic Nepalese capital to rubble in a matter of minutes.
This morning's huge aftershock left locals afraid to return to their homes, with makeshift refugee camps and tent cities erected across the city to provide shelter for those effectively left homeless.
Several of the most recognisable buildings in Kathmandu. including towers and temples, now lie in rubble after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country yesterday morning.
More than 700 climbers are stranded on Mount Everest awaiting helicopters after the avalanche blocked off all access points.
Between 17 and 19 people were killed when ice and rock crushed the base camp on Saturday.
On Sunday morning, a fleet of six helicopters managed to lift 22 of the most injured climbers and sherpas to Kathmandu for treatment.
But bad weather, continued aftershocks, and poor communication has scuppered subsequent trips, leaving hundreds stranded.
The avalanche started on the nearby 23,000-foot Mount Kimori, which sent ice and rock speeding down the mountain towards the base camp.
Aftershocks, measuring around 6 on the Richter scale, have continued to pile snow on to the remaining trails, meaning it is no longer safe to attempt a climb down.
More than 700 climbers are stranded on Mount Everest awaiting helicopters after the avalanche blocked off all access points
One expedition instructor, Daniel Mazur, managed to tweet an update from the mountains at midday Eastern Time.
He informed his followers a route had been found but it is badly damaged. Most of the sherpas assisting their climb, he said, have fled to the nearby village of Namche.
Another, Adrian Ballinger, tweeted from the Tibetan side of the Himalayas.
He said the survivors have shared 'shots of blessed whiskey, hugs and smiles' as they await rescue.
American cardiologist Ellen Gallant has been providing medical assistance to the injured climbers that missed the helicopter.
She told AFP how, despite their efforts, one young Nepali man died due to lack of treatment.
'Of the nine patients, one of them died last night - a 25-year-old sherpa. His blood pressure had fallen - there was nothing we could do.
'When you go to medical school, you learn to focus on the task at hand. But now that things have settled down, it's hit me hard. That young man... shouldn't have to die.'
CCTV footage has also emerged of the moment the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal
The immense force of the quake can be seen in the surveillance footage as the trees are shown shaking violently from side-to-side
SARAID a charity specialising in rescuing people trapped in collapsed buildings, is taking 1.5 tonnes of equipment including sound and vibration detectors, search cameras and cutting equipment.
The disaster has underlined the woeful state of Nepal's medical facilities. The country has only 2.1 physicians and 50 hospital beds for every 10,000 people, according to a 2011 World Health Organization report.
Officials fear hospitals may begin running out of crucial supplies at any moment. Trauma surgeons have begun operating on the critically wounded in tents after losing their theatres to the devastation.
'We only have one operation theatre here. To be able to provide immediate treatment we require 15. I am just not able to cope,' said Dipendra Pandey, an orthopaedic surgeon at the National Trauma Centre.
'Both private and government hospitals have run out of space and are treating patients outside, in the open,' said Nepal's envoy to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyay.
Death toll rises to more than 1,300 in monster Nepal quake: Homes, offices and historic buildings flattened as 7.9 earthquake rocks the capital and sets off deadly Everest avalanche
Sleeping in the streets and shell-shocked, Nepalese cremated the dead and dug through rubble for the missing Sunday, a day after a massive Himalayan earthquake killed more than 2,200 people. Aftershocks tormented them, making buildings sway and sending panicked Kathmandu residents running into the streets.
The cawing of crows mixed with terrified screams as the worst of the aftershocks — magnitude 6.7 — pummeled the capital city. It came as planeloads of supplies, doctors and relief workers from neighboring countries began arriving in this poor Himalayan nation. No deaths or injuries were reported from the early Sunday afternoon quake, but it took an emotional toll.
"The aftershocks keep coming ... so people don't know what to expect," said Sanjay Karki, Nepal country head for global aid agency Mercy Corps. "All the open spaces in Kathmandu are packed with people who are camping outdoors. When the aftershocks come you cannot imagine the fear. You can hear women and children crying."
Saturday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake spread horror from Kathmandu to small villages and to the slopes of Mount Everest, triggering an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts. At least 17 people died there and 61 were injured.
The earthquake centered outside Kathmandu, the capital, was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in over 80 years. It destroyed swaths of the oldest neighborhoods of Kathmandu, and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China's region of Tibet and Pakistan.
By Sunday afternoon, authorities said at least 2,169 people had died in Nepal alone, with 61 more deaths in India and a few in other neighboring countries. At least 721 of them died in Kathmandu alone, and the number of injured nationwide was upward of 5,000. With search and rescue efforts far from over, it was unclear how much the death toll would rise.
But outside of the oldest neighborhoods, many in Kathmandu were surprised by how few modern structures — the city is largely a collection of small, poorly constructed brick apartment buildings — collapsed in the quake. While aid workers cautioned that many buildings could have sustained serious structural damage, it was also clear that the death toll would have been far higher had more buildings caved in.
Aid workers also warned that the situation could be far worse near the epicenter. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered near Lamjung, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu, in the Gorkha district.
Roads to that area were blocked by landslides, hindering rescue teams, said chief district official Prakash Subedi. Teams were trekking through mountain trails to reach remote villages, and helicopters would also be deployed, he said by telephone.
Local aid worker Matt Darvas said in a statement issued by his group, World Vision, that he heard that many remote mountain villages near the epicenter may have been completely buried by rock falls.
The villages "are literally perched on the sides of large mountain faces and are made from simple stone and rock construction," Darvas said. "Many of these villages are only accessible by 4WD and then foot, with some villages hours and even entire days' walks away from main roads at the best of times."
Nepal's worst recorded earthquake in 1934 measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.
With people fearing more quakes, tens of thousands of Nepalese spent Saturday night outside under chilly skies, or in cars and public buses. They were jolted awake by strong aftershocks early Sunday.
"There were at least three big quakes at night and early morning. How can we feel safe? This is never-ending and everyone is scared and worried," said Kathmandu resident Sundar Sah. "I hardly got much sleep. I was waking up every few hours and glad that I was alive."
As day broke, rescuers aided by international teams set out to dig through rubble of buildings — concrete slabs, bricks, iron beams, wood — to look for survivors.
In the Kalanki neighborhood of Kathmandu, police rescuers finally extricated a man lying under a dead body, both of them buried beneath a pile of concrete slabs and iron beams. Before his rescue, his family members stood nearby, crying and praying. Police said the man's legs and hips were totally crushed.
Hundreds of people in Kalanki gathered around the collapsed Lumbini Guest House, once a three-story budget hotel and restaurant frequented by Nepalese. They watched with fear and anticipation as a single backhoe dug into the rubble.
Police officer RP Dhamala, who was coordinating the rescue efforts, said they had already pulled out 12 people alive and six dead. He said rescuers were still searching for about 20 people believed to be trapped, but had heard no cries, taps or noises for a while.
Most areas were without power and water. The United Nations said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were overcrowded, and running out of emergency supplies and space to store corpses.
Plumes of smoke, meanwhile, rose above the capital as friends, relatives and others gathered by the river to quickly cremate loved ones' remains.
Most shops in Kathmandu were shut; only fruit vendors and pharmacies seemed to be doing business.
"More people are coming now," fruit seller Shyam Jaiswal said. "They cannot cook so they need to buy something they can eat raw."
Jaiswal said stocks were running out, and more shipments were not expected for at least a week, but added, "We are not raising prices. That would be illegal, immoral profit."
The quake will likely put a huge strain on the resources of this impoverished country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, relies heavily on tourism, principally trekking and Himalayan mountain climbing.
With Kathmandu airport reopened, the first aid flights began delivering aid supplies. The first to respond were Nepal's neighbors — India, China and Pakistan, all of which have been jockeying for influence over the landlocked nation. Nepal remains closest to India, with which it shares deep political, cultural and religious ties.
India suffered its own losses from the quake, with at least 61 people killed there and dozens injured. Sunday's aftershock was also widely felt in the country, and local news reports said metro trains in New Delhi and Kolkata were briefly shut down when the shaking started.
Other countries sending support Sunday included the United Arab Emirates, Germany and France.
After the chaos of Saturday — when little organized rescue and relief was seen — there was more order on Sunday as rescue teams fanned out across the city.
Workers were sending out tents and relief goods in trucks and helicopters and setting up shelters, said disaster management official Rameshwar Dangal. Mukesh Kafle, the head of the Nepal Electricity Authority, said power was restored to main government offices, the airport and hospitals.
Among the destroyed buildings in Kathmandu was the nine-story Dharahara Tower, a Kathmandu landmark built by Nepal's royal rulers as a watchtower in the 1800s and a UNESCO-recognized historical monument. It was reduced to rubble and there were reports of people trapped underneath.
The Kathmandu Valley is listed as a World Heritage site. The Buddhist stupas, public squares and Hindu temples are some of the most well-known sites in Kathmandu, and now some of the most deeply mourned.
Nepali journalist and author Shiwani Neupane tweeted: "The sadness is sinking in. We have lost our temples, our history, the places we grew up."
More than 1,300 people across four countries have been killed after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal causing massive damage in the country's capital.
The Nepalese government has declared a state of emergency in affected areas and appealed for international assistance after the severe quake destroyed homes, businesses and temples in Kathmandu and the densely-populated surrounding areas at noon local time.
Officials confirmed that at least 1,341 people have died as rescue teams continue to search for survivors who are feared to be trapped under rubble. The death toll is expected to rise.
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Locals rescued two more dust-covered men, pulling them up on the the street as they work to find and rescue any survivors of the disaster
Two men stand on top of the remains of a building destroyed by the earthquake as a collapsed telephone pole teeters in the rubble nearby
Men carry an injured person through the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused massive damage in the city
A man is buried up to his neck in rubble as the rescue teams attempt to dig him free from the collapsed building in the capital of Nepal
Effects of the quake were felt hundreds of miles away in neighbouring countries with 36 killed in India, 12 in Tibet and 4 in Bangladesh. Two Chinese citizens died at the Nepal-China border.
Australian Ballantyne Forder, 20, who was working in a number of orphanages around the country, is also feared to be among those killed.
A spokeswoman for Intrepid Travel - which arranges treks in Nepal and around the Everest region - confirmed they had groups with British travellers in the area and said they are still attempting to contact those tours.
The earthquake has also triggered a massive avalanche on Mount Everest killing 18 and injuring at least 30. Several groups of climbers were also said to be trapped at base camp which was severely damaged.
Panicked residents had rushed into the streets as the tremor erupted with the impact felt hundreds of miles away in big swathes of northern India and even in Bangladesh.
Video footage showed people digging through the rubble of the bricks from the collapsed tower, looking for survivors.
Nepal’s capital Kathmandu – with a population of over one million – was one of the worst-hit areas in Nepal, with the quake’s epicentre just 50 miles north of the city. As the tremors intensified, people were seen in scenes of mayhem running from their homes and places of work in panic.
Dozens of people were gathered in the car park of Kathmandu's Norvic International Hospital, where thin mattresses had been spread on the ground for patients rushed outside, some patients wearing hospital pyjamas, while doctors and nurses were treating people.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu at 06.11 GMT, with walls crumbling and families racing outside of their homes. The 7.8 magnitude tremor was the worst to hit the poor South Asian nation in over 80 years.
Television footage showed a huge swathe of houses had collapsed in while roads had been split in two by the force of the impact.
India was first to respond to Nepal's appeal for help by sending in military aircraft with medical equipment and relief teams.
Prime Minister David Cameron has now pledged that the UK will do all it can to help in the aftermath on the Nepal earthquake.
On Twitter he said: 'Shocking news about the earthquake in Nepal - the UK will do all we can to help those caught up in it.'
Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, added his condolences and said the British Embassy was providing help to any UK nationals caught up in the disaster.
'My thoughts are with the people of Nepal and everyone affected by the terrible loss of life and widespread damage caused by the earthquake,' he said.
'We are in close contact with the Nepalese government. The British Embassy in Nepal is offering our assistance to the authorities and is providing consular assistance to British Nationals.'
People carry a woman from the rubble of a destroyed building while locals and rescue teams continue to search for more survivors of the earthquake
The earthquake had an epicentre 80 kilometres north-west of Kathmandu,according to United States Geological Survey and strong tremors were also felt in large areas of northern and eastern India and Bangladesh
A man comforts a woman next to a seriously injured person on the ground in the aftermath of the disaster which is thought to have killed at least two
The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu at 06.11 GMT, with walls crumbling and families racing outside of their homes
Vim Tamang, a resident of Manglung village near the epicentre, said: 'Our village has been almost wiped out. Most of the houses are either buried by landslide or damaged by shaking.'All the villagers have gathered in the open area. We don't know what to do. We are feeling helpless.'
A terrified Kathmandu resident said: 'Everything started shaking. Everything fell down. The walls around the main road have collapsed. The national stadiums gates have collapsed,' Kathmandu resident Anupa Shrestha said.
Indian tourist Devyani Pant was in a Kathmandu coffee shop with friends when 'suddenly the tables started trembling and paintings on the wall fell on the ground.
'I screamed and rushed outside,' she told Reuters by telephone from the capital, where at least 300 people died.
'We are now collecting bodies and rushing the injured to the ambulance. We are being forced to pile several bodies one above the other to fit them in.'
Pushpa Das, a labourer, ran from the house when the first quake struck but could not escape a collapsing wall that injured his arm.
'It was very scary. The earth was moving ... I am waiting for treatment but the (hospital) staff is overwhelmed,' he said.
'The walls of houses have collapsed around me onto the road. All the families are outside in their yards huddled together. The tremors are still going on,' an AFP reporter added.
Government emergency workers are reportedly already on the scene in the most damaged areas while Save the Children teams on the ground are coordinating an emergency response.
Australian Ballantyne Forder, 20, was in Nepal near where the 7.8 magnitude quake hit
Australian Ballantyne Forder, 20, was working in orphanages in Nepal near where the 7.8 magnitude quake hit.
Her family launched a desperate search to find her, posting information across social media in the hopes someone can provide them with information.
Ms Forder's sister, Amanda-Sue Markham, shared a number of pictures on Twitter and made a plea for help.
'My sister at centre of earthquake was working in a baby's orphanage,' she said.
'Last heard of nine hours ago. If you know how to pray, please do so for the safety of my sister.'
Another sister, Priscilla-Anne Forder said the family was desperate for news.
'She's been in Kathmandu and Pokhara but we don't know where exactly she is right now,' Ms Forder told News Corp Australia.
'The family is sitting around the computer trying to get in touch and just looking for information.
'She's been over there working at baby orphanages for seven weeks. She gave everything up to over there and help the kids,'
Ms Forder was due home in Australia at the end of May.
It is believed Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will make a statement on other Australians potentially caught in the disaster once more detailed information is available.
Her family launched a desperate search to find Ms Ballantyne, pictured at one of the orphanages she was working at in Nepal, at posting information across social media in the hopes someone can provide them with information
Oxfam is also lending its support to the rescue effort with teams in Nepal already assessing the humanitarian need and a team of technical experts preparing to fly from the UK with supplies to provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food supplies.
Tanya Barron, CEO of Plan International UK, who is in eastern Nepal on a scheduled visit, said she was on the top floor of a building when it started to 'shake violently'.
She added: 'It was very scary. Our colleagues advised us that the quake felt much stronger than usual.
'We are safe and now we are working with our colleagues to respond. There are crowds of people on the streets here and the hospitals are already overwhelmed. Our immediate priorities are to assist the emergency services with search and rescue and to establish shelter.'
A spokeswoman for Intrepid Travel, which arranges treks in Nepal and around the Everest region, said Britons were among their passengers in the area, but would not confirm how many.
Chloe Berman said: 'We are currently working with our local operations team to contact our groups in the area, and confirm that all passengers, leaders and local ground staff are safe and accounted for.
'Communications in the region is currently limited. There has been significant damage to infrastructure. Most phone lines are down and mobile coverage is limited.'
Several buildings collapsed in the centre of the capital, the ancient Old Kathmandu, including centuries-old temples and towers, said resident Prachanda Sual.
People walk past a building that was almost completely gutted by the powerful quake in Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley
People survey a site damaged by the shallow earthquake measuring 7.8 magnitude struck west of the ancient Nepali capital of Kathmandu on Saturday, killing more than 100 people, injuring hundreds and leaving a pall over the valley, doctors and witnesses said
Rescue workers carry away a victim of the a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Kathmandu and teams work to try and find survivors in the rubble
Volunteers carry someone who was in a building when it collapsed in the powerful earthquake which was felt hundreds of miles away in neighbouring countries
A man stands beside the blood of a victim after an earthquake which killed several hundreds of people in Nepal and injured many others
Among them was the Dharahara Tower, one of the city's landmarks built by Nepal's royal rulers in the 1800s and a Unesco-recognised historical monument.
There were reports of that a body was removed from the tower and a second lay further up the road after it was reduced to rubble. Teams have rescued many more from the ruins. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the multi-storey tower when it collapsed.
Google have relaunched their 'person finder' tool to help those affected by the earthquake in Nepal.
The tool is a searchable, online database to help people track down their loved ones who are involved in the disaster.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which killed hundreds and destroyed homes, also damaged communications in the region.
Person Finder collates information from emergency responders and individuals who post details about relatives missing or found.
Within hours of the disaster, 200 names had been uploaded.
The tool was first launched in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and has been used in several major disasters ever since including the 2011 Japanese tsunami and 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
'Our focus is on rescue in the core areas of Kathmandu where the population is concentrated,' Dinesh Acharya, metropolitan police spokesman, said.
'Many houses and buildings have collapsed. We don't know if there have been fatalities yet.'
Old Kathmandu city is a warren of tightly-packed, narrow lanes with poorly-constructed homes piled on top of each other which were vulnerable to collapse.
Residents reported seeing trails of destruction - collapsed walls, broken windows and fallen telephone poles - as they drove through the capital, along with streets filled with terrified people.
'It's too early to make any assessment but the damage isn't as bad as it could have been,' said Liz Satow, the Nepal director for the air group World Vision who drove from Kathmandu to the nearby town of Lalitpur and added that while there was considerable damage, most buildings were still intact.
A state broadcaster for China that said at least two Chinese tourists had also died at the Nepal-China border.
The powerful earthquake also created an avalanche which swept the face of Mt. Everest killing eight and injuring at least 30 climbers attempting the world's highest peak - with April the most popular month to attempt the summit
It struck between the Khumbu Icefall, a rugged area of collapsed ice and snow, and the base camp, said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
The disaster has sparked fears for climbers on the world's highest peak a year after another avalanche caused the deadliest incident on the mountain.
Carsten Lillelund Pedersen, a Dane who is climbing the Everest with a Belgian climber Jelle Veyt, said on his Facebook page that they were at Khumbu Icefall at altitude 16,500ft when the earthquake hit.
He wrote on Facebook that they have started to receive the injured, including one person with the most severe injuries who sustained many fractures.
Romanian climber Alex Gavan said on Twitter that there had been a 'huge avalanche' and 'many, many' people were up on the mountain.
A couple of earthquake victims are helped by a rescuer in Kathmandu's Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was severely damaged by the earthquake
Locals who live in Kathmandu are in shock after losing their homes and, for some, their loved ones in the earthquake
A man stands in front of a building that collapsed at Durbar Square in Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley
Before and after: The Dharahara Tower, one of Kathmandu's landmarks built by Nepal's royal rulers in the 1800s was reduced to rubble with reports of people trapped underneath
Rescuers remove debris at the tower, a city landmark, after the quake which had an epicentre was 50 miles north-west of Kathmandu and it had a depth of only seven miles, which is considered shallow in geological terms
People inspect the damage of the collapsed landmark Dharahara, also called Bhimsen Tower, after an earthquake caused serious damage in the city
A car is hit by an electric pole after it collapsed following an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal. A magnitude-6.6 aftershock hit about an hour later, and smaller aftershocks continued to ripple through the region for hours
'Running for life from my tent,' Gavan said. 'Everest base camp huge earthquake then huge avalanche.'
Another climber, Daniel Mazur, said Everest base camp had been 'severely damaged' and his team was trapped.
'Please pray for everyone,' he said on his Twitter page.
An avalanche in April 2014 just above the base camp on Mount Everest killed 16 Nepali guides. April is one of the most popular times to climb Everest before rain and clouds cloak the mountain at the end of next month.
Some 230,000 people - nearly half of Nepal's yearly foreign visitors - come to trek the Himalayas, with 810 attempting to scale Mt. Everest in 2013.
Initially measured at 7.5 magnitude, the quake was later adjusted to 7.9, with a depth of 15 kilometres, the USGS said. The US Geological Survey then lowered it to 7.8.
Emergency rescue workers find an injured survivor in the debris of Dharara Tower after it collapsed at noon local time in Kathmandu
Emergency rescue workers carry out another victim of the collapse of the Dharara Tower, a historic 19th century monument, on a stretcher
Injured people receive treatment outside Medicare Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, after a strong magnitude-7.8 earthquake shook Nepal's capital
The tremor was felt as far as India which reported 34 deaths. In Silguri, an injured young victim of the quake undergoes treatment in hospital
It hit 68 kilometres east of the tourist town of Pokhara. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes.
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 millimeters (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.
The quake's epicentre was 50 miles north-west of Kathmandu and it had a depth of only seven miles, which is considered shallow in geological terms.
The shallower the quake, the more destructive power it carries, and witnesses said the trembling and swaying of the earth went on for several minutes.
National radio warned people to stay outdoors and maintain calm because more aftershocks were feared.
A 6.6-magnitude aftershock hit about an hour after the initial quake. But smaller aftershocks continued to arrive every few minutes and residents reported of the ground feeling unstable.
People gathered outside Kathmandu's Norvic International Hospital where doctors and nurses had hooked up some patients to IV drops in the car park or were giving people oxygen.
A Swedish woman, Jenny Adhikari, who lives in Nepal, told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that she was riding a bus in the town of Melamchi when the earth began to move.
'A huge stone crashed only about 20 metres from the bus,' she was quoted as saying.
'All the houses around me have tumbled down. I think there are lot of people who have died,' she told the newspaper by telephone. Melamchi is about 30 miles north-east of Kathmandu.
The earthquake also shook several cities across northern India and was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan and Lhasa in Tibet, 340 miles east of Kathmandu and India's capital of New Delhi. The Indian cities of Lucknow in the north and Patna in the east also reported strong tremors.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting of top government officials to review the damage and disaster preparedness in parts of India that felt strong tremors.
'We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home and in Nepal,' he said in a tweet.
As well as leveling many of Kathmandu's homes and structures, the quake also left a dust pall over the valley, doctors and witnesses said
People search for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO sitem after an earthquake caused serious damage
Rescue teams and tractors clear the rubble of collapsed buildings, crumbled temples and broken walls in Kathmandu Durbar Square
People clear rubble in Kathmandu's Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was severely damaged by the earthquake
A huge clean up and rescue effort is underway to find survivors of the tragedy and to try and clear away debris from the toppled walls and collapsed buildings
The Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Sikkim, which share a border with Nepal, have reported building damage. There have also been reports of damage in the north-eastern state of Assam.
The earthquake was also felt across large areas of Bangladesh, triggering panic in the capital Dhaka as people rushed out onto the streets.
In the garment manufacturing hub of Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, at least 50 workers were injured after the quake set off stampede in a garment factory, according to private Jamuna television.
Laxman Singh Rathore, director-general of the Indian Meteorological Department said: 'The intensity was felt in entire north India. More intense shocks were felt in eastern UP (Uttar Pradesh) and Bihar, equally strong in sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim,' he said.
Michelin-starred chef Sat Bains dropped out of his Mount Everest attempt days before the avalanche
Michelin-starred chef Sat Bains was attempting to hold the world's highest dinner party on Mount Everest but was forced to pull out after being diagnosed with a life-threatening form of altitude sickness.
The 44-year-old, from Nottingham, had to be brought down the mountain and it took two days to get him to hospital in Kathmandu.
He was only discharged yesterday and was due to fly home this morning when the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Nepalese capital killing hundreds and destroying homes.
Mr Bains, who owns the two Michelin-starred Sat Bains Restaurant, survived the disaster but was said to have 'no idea' how he would make it back to the UK.
His PR executive Elaine Spooner said: 'He's OK. At the moment he's in the hotel car park away from surrounding buildings.
'He was due to fly out today but have no idea what he'll do now. CNN are reporting deaths at Base Camp and Sat is desperate for news but cannot make contact.'
Mr Bains had spent months training and devising a three-course meal for the world's highest black tie dinner party at 7,100m on Everest's North Ridge.
The team left Base Camp on Monday but expedition medics noted and monitored a stitch that Bains developed during a practice trek at 5,300m.
After symptoms worsened he was diagnosed with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and taken down the mountain leaving the rest of his team with the freeze-dried food and cooking instructions in the hope that the dinner party will still take place next week in his absence.
But this morning an avalanche triggered by the earthquake swept down the mountain killing at least ten and injuring 30.
One team member Ted Atkins had tweeted before the avalanche: 'The party goes on in his honour, he will be there with us, if in pre-packaged bags of amazement.
'I know I usually lose my appetite at altitude - not this time I think.'
It is not yet known whether his team were amongst those killed.
Yesterday Sat had tweeted: 'Thank you all for get well wishes, got all clear to fly today so back home asap. My thoughts are with the rest of my team. Good luck.xx
'There is a bitter disappointment I didn't get there but I have gained so much over the past three weeks.'
Rathore that a second tremor of a 6.6 magnitude had been recorded around 20 minutes later and centred around the same region.
'Since it is a big earthquake, there are aftershocks and people should stay cautious,' he said.
'The damage potential of any earthquake above seven magnitude is high. The duration of the earthquake tremors was different at different places. It was around 50-55 seconds long in Delhi.'
A 6.9-magnitude quake hit northeastern India in 2011, rocking neighbouring Nepal and killing 110 people.
Nepal suffered its worst recorded earthquake in 1934, which measured eight and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.