A 7.3 magnitude earthquake tore through Nepal Tuesday afternoon, leaving at least 32 people dead, at least a thousand injured, and several buildings ruined. The quake comes just three weeks after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit the country, killing more than 8,000 people.
According to the USGS, the quake’s epicenter was about 50 miles east of the capital in Kathmandu, near the China border. (The epicenter of the quake that hit the country April 25 was about 50 miles west of the capital.) Reuters reports the quake was felt as far west as New Delhi and east as Bangladesh.
By any stretch, a magnitude-7.3 quake is a big one. It’s not quite as big as the quake on 25 April (7.8), which was 5.5 times more energetic, but it’s a major tremor nonetheless.
Since 25 April, the immediate analysis had suggested that more activity on the fault was possible because the previous event had not ruptured all the way to the surface. That meant some of the strain built up in the rocks over the years had not all been released.
One has to hope that the buildings which were damaged last time have been felled in subsequent aftershocks, or have been put out of bounds. This will limit the casualties this time. But further landslides and avalanches in the mountainous terrain are a persistent risk.
The quake has triggered landslides in small villages surrounding the capital—the Sindhupalchowk district, Reuters reports, saw at least three following the quake.
“I can still see massive clouds of mud and dust around, as massive landslides continue to happen,” Bharat Shrestha, who helping a rescue operation in a town near Chautara, told the New York Times. “Concrete houses in Chautara have crumbled, and the main road leading to Chautara is completely blocked with debris.”