A devastating earthquake in the remote Jajarkot region of the Himalayan country has killed at least 157 people.

Search and rescue operations in Nepal were called off 36 hours after a devastating earthquake that killed at least 157 people and destroyed homes in the remote northwest region.

Officials have shifted their focus to providing aid, food and shelter to survivors.

At least 105 people were confirmed dead in Jajarkot district, a predominantly agricultural area, while 52 people were killed in neighboring Rukum district, officials said. Another 184 were injured.

More than 100 beds were made available at the regional hospital in Nepalgunj city and medical teams were ready to help the injured.

Many survivors spent the night in the open air, their mud houses reduced to piles of rubble, as the 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the northwestern region with a population of about 190,000 people at 11:47 p.m. (18:02 GMT) late Friday evening.

Several people died in Nalgad village in the worst-hit Jajarkot district, where Mahesh Chanare was preparing for the cremation of his father-in-law on Sunday.

“The rest of my family is safe,” said the 34-year-old plumber. “But the houses have buried everything with them, there is hardly anything to eat,” he added.

“No relief supplies have arrived. The people here urgently need food and tents.”

The search and rescue is complete

Provincial police spokesman Gopal Chandra Bhattarai said officers were in touch with all affected areas and had completed rescue operations. “But we are still on alert because it is a remote area and there may be some remote areas from where no information has been transmitted,” he said.

Harish Chandra Sharma, a Jajarkot district official, said the focus now was on helping the victims. “It was a tough night and we are trying to provide relief materials to those affected by the quake,” said Sharma. “Some have been distributed, but we need to reach all areas.”

On Friday, locals frantically dug through the rubble in the dark to pull survivors from the rubble of collapsed houses and buildings, while others ran to safety outside.

Security forces were deployed on foot and helicopters and small government aircraft capable of maneuvering the mountainous region were also pressed into service to assist in search and rescue operations and to transport the wounded to hospitals.

In some affected areas, rescue and search teams have cleared landslides caused by the earthquake to open road access, Bhattarai said.

The tremors were felt as far away as the capital Kathmandu, about 400 km (250 miles) away, and even as far away as the Indian capital New Delhi, about 600 km (375 miles) away.

Nepal lies on a major geological fault line where the Indian tectonic plate pushes into the Eurasian plate to form the Himalayas, and earthquakes occur regularly.

In 2015, two earthquakes in Nepal killed around 9,000 people. Entire cities, centuries-old temples and other historic sites were reduced to rubble, and more than a million homes were destroyed.

Source : www.aljazeera.com

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