Abigail Hunter(KATHMANDU, Nepal) — A massive earthquake near the capital of Nepal killed at least 1,457 people on Saturday as it collapsed temples and triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest.
The magnitude-7.8 quake hit about 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu just before noon local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The death toll, estimated by the Nepalese Army, was expected to rise, said officials.
Another 1,055 were injured, said the country’s finance minister, Ram Sharan Mahat.
Abigail Hunter, an American traveling in Baktapur, saw people pulling others out of buildings and using motorbikes and small trucks as makeshift ambulances. The earthquake reduced many of the temples inside the city about 30 minutes away from the capital to rubble, she said, adding that she saw “lots of people praying to the actual temples” as aftershocks hit the city.
“The streets are littered with bricks, debris, loads of dust,” said Hunter, the sister of an ABC News employee. “[It] was hard to see during the earthquake with all the dust.”
A magnitude-6.6 aftershock hit about an hour after the initial earthquake and smaller aftershocks followed in the region for hours.
Hunter said she watched as families ran to their homes to see if anyone was still inside.
“Everyone was very scared,” she said. “Lots of crying, families trying to find each other.”
Ayal Weiner-Kaplow, another American visiting Baktapur, said water wasn’t flowing in the city and most of the remaining food was dried junk food and crackers. He wandered around in search for something to eat until he came upon a restaurant.
“A restaurant owner filled us up – all of our bottles – and gave us potatoes, bread, and chicken, refused payment adamantly,” he said. “I was actually moved to tears.”
Weiner-Kaplow said most Nepalis slept outside, believing their homes were unsafe if another earthquake struck.
The quake also killed 34 in India, six in Tibet, two in Bangladesh, and two on the Nepal-China border.
The quake also triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest that killed at least ten climbers and guides and injured many more.
David Arvan, who was set to climb Mt. Everest, said he immediately recognized the earthquake after living in California.
“We sought shelter under a concave boulder until it subsided,” he told ABC News by email. “Some people were crying in fear during all the rumbling.”
Azim Afif, a climber from Malaysia, was at a base camp when the quake hit and everything in his tent starting shaking.
“We go out and we see a big snowstorm coming to us,” he said, adding that he saw “white, nothing else than white.”
“We are very lucky to survive,” Afif said.
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