Rescue operations gradually resumed in Nepal on Wednesday amid periodic aftershocks and fears of landslides, one day after a second major earthquake within three weeks rocked the Himalayan nation.
Thousands of Nepalis spent the night in the open after the fresh temblor on Tuesday afternoon, while several have still not returned home after the larger earthquake on April 25 that ripped through the country and claimed over 8,000 lives.
Tuesday’s earthquake measured 7.3 on the Richter scale against the 7.8 magnitude of the previous one, and left 65 dead and around 2,000 injured, reports the BBC. The epicenter was in Namche Bazaar, a popular town on the route to Mount Everest about 76 km from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, but its impact was felt as far as India, where 17 people died in the eastern state of Bihar, and Tibet, where one person was killed in a landslide.
Landslides are an increasing possibility in the still volatile mountain region, and the onset of the monsoons in subsequent months only heightens the potential risk.
“It’s not safe here,” Ram Tamang, a resident of Jure village who lost his wife, mother and three children in a landslide last August, told Reuters. “Last night it was raining hard the whole night and I couldn’t sleep. I’m always worried another landslide will come.”
Hundreds of Nepali troops gathered in the country’s northeastern Charikot district, meanwhile, searching for a U.S. Marine helicopter that went missing on Tuesday while delivering aid to a local village. The UH-1Y Huey helicopter had six Marines and two Nepali soldiers on board, and was reportedly heard talking about fuel problems.
“The info we have is that it is down in one of the rivers, but none of the choppers has seen it yet,” Major Rajan Dahal, second in command of the Barda Bahadur Battalion, told Reuters. “There are 400-plus of our ground troops looking for it also,” he said, in addition to the six other helicopters conducting an aerial search. “By this evening, we might get it.”