The death toll of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday, April 25 reached 5,000. The earthquake also injured approximately 9,000. Multiple aftershocks, including a massive one measuring 6.7 one the Richter scale, hampered humanitarian efforts, according to The New York Times.
The earthquake caused heavy casualties in the densely packed Nepalese capital of Katmandu, as well as at least 17 deaths after the earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest.
Several small villages located in the mountains around the epicenter are believed to be completely destroyed. Rescue efforts in these villages will likely raise the death toll.
The earthquake struck just before noon local time with an epicenter about 50 miles away from Kathmandu. Nearly two dozen aftershocks followed, including a magnitude-6.7 aftershock about an hour after the initial quake, according to NBC News. Hospitals overflowed with injured people, homes were damaged, phone lines were jammed and roads had gaping cracks running along them.
“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.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Peter Bodde to release an initial 1 million dollars for humanitarian assistance. USAID, an America-based humanitarian agency, is also preparing to deploy a disaster response team and is activating an urban search and rescue team to accompany disaster experts.
“To the people in Nepal and the region affected by this tragedy, we send our heartfelt sympathies,” Kerry said in a statement.
The quake was also felt in bordering Southeast Asian countries. Fifty people were killed in the neighboring countries of India, Tibet, and Bangladesh, according to The New York Times.
Dozens of bodies were pulled from Dharahara, the country’s historic nine-story tower that came crashing down during the quake, according to CNN. A backhoe chipped away at the nub left protruding through its crumbled ruins.
One American was killed as a result of the earthquake. Dan Fridenburg, an executive for Google, had been climbing Mount Everest when he was struck down by an avalanche. He had been posting updates to his Facebook and Twitter when the avalanche struck, according to CNN.
“We appreciate all of the love that has been sent our way thus far and know his soul and his spirit will live on in so many of us,” wrote Fridenburg’s sister Megan. “All our love and thanks to those who shared this life with our favorite hilarious strong willed man. He was and is everything to us.”
Numerous countries have pledged aid to the impoverished nation whose economy rests mostly on the tourism brought in by the Himalayan mountains, according to USA Today.
On Sunday, April 26, the Pentagon dispatched a cargo plane with about 70 disaster-relief and rescue personnel and their gear to aid the earthquake-ravaged country. The United Arab Emirates, Israel, France, Britain and Switzerland also pledged a combined 13 million dollars and hundreds of doctors, nurses and search and rescue workers to the country, as well as building surveyors and water purification experts, according to USA Today.
Israel also sent almost 100 tons of medical and humanitarian supplies. Six hundred Israelis were believed to be in Nepal at the time of the earthquake, and around 150 are yet to be accounted for.
Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, CNN, USA Today and NBC News were used in this report.