S'porean says Nepal's second quake was terrifying

S'porean says Nepal's second quake was terrifying
Residents evacuate from a shop in Kathmandu during yesterday’s earthquake, which caused several landslides and further damage to buildings.

For a minute, the ground shook and their worst fears surfaced again.

As the false ceiling of the school building fell, students and teachers scrambled to the first storey, said Singaporean Caroline Shrestha, 35, who teaches biology and environmental science at Ullens School in Lalitpur, Nepal.

"We evacuated in time. We are now getting the kids to go home. Some of them fainted and some were crying," Mrs Shrestha told The New Paper yesterday in a WhatsApp message.

The earthquake was centred 68km west of Namche Bazaar, a town close to Mount Everest and the border with Tibet, the US Geological Survey said.

Strong tremors were felt in Nepal's capital Kathmandu and tremors could be felt about 1,000km away in New Delhi, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The 7.3 magnitude quake comes two weeks after the devastating 7.8 one on April 25 which killed more than 8,000 people.

Lalitpur is about 178km from the epicentre of yesterday's quake.

Mrs Shrestha said she had assigned her students some lab work and had gone to the staff room for a short while when the ground began to shake and rumble at about 12.50pm local time (about 3pm, Singapore time).

While the walls of Ullens School, which is the equivalent of a junior college, withstood the quake, the glassware in the lab fell to the ground and the false ceiling collapsed.

Mrs Srestha, who moved to Nepal in 2012 after marrying a Nepali, described it as terrifying.

"You could feel the ground shake whether you were running or standing. Even on the open ground of the carpark, the ground shook."

She said students and staff were traumatised by the minute-long tremors.

"Even teachers sat on the ground and cried. Students... were also shaken once again. Thankfully, only the older kids came to school. There were no primary or secondary (school) students."

Meanwhile, the death toll in yesterday's quake has climbed to 39 and more than 1,000 people have been injured, Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs said.

Kathmandu resident Suresh Sharma, 63, who was at a vegetable market at the time, told AFP: "The last time we had the big quake I ran out of my house and barely escaped. This one felt just like that one. I can't believe it's happening again."

CRUSHED

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which has a number of teams on the ground in the wake of the April 25 quake, said four people were crushed to death when buildings collapsed in Chautara, east of Kathmandu.

Scientists said the quake is part of a chain reaction in a notorious seismic hotspot. Like buttons popping off one by one from a shirt that is ripped open, a large quake displaces stress to another part of a fault, causing it to rupture.

"Large earthquakes are often followed by other quakes, sometimes as large as the initial one," said Ms Carmen Solana, a volcanologist at Britain's University of Portsmouth.

"This is because the movement produced by the first quake adds extra stress on other faults and destabilises them."

rloh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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