Fragile Nepal Hit by New Magnitude 7.3 Quake

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An earthquake in Nepal on Tuesday killed at least 41 people and injured more than 1,000, a little over two weeks after thousands died in an even more powerful temblor.

The 7.3 magnitude quake at 12:35 p.m. Indian time was centered 76 kilometers (47 miles) east-northeast of Kathmandu at a depth of 15 kilometers, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Tremors were felt as far away as India’s capital New Delhi.

The quake was initially reported as magnitude 7.4 before being slightly downgraded.

“Some buildings have fallen down,” Abhay Kumar, a spokesman at India’s embassy in Kathmandu, said by phone from the city. “We haven’t gotten any word of what things are like outside” Nepal’s capital, he said.

The government estimates reconstruction costs from April’s earthquake alone will exceed $10 billion, equivalent to about half of Nepal’s $20 billion economy. Nepal is one of Asia’s poorest nations, with a gross domestic product that’s smaller than any of the 50 U.S. states.

The country’s Ministry of Home Affairs said at least 1,117 were injured Tuesday, apart from the dozens killed.

The shaking “felt pretty big and it lasted more than a minute,” Rameshwor Dangal, an official at the ministry, said by phone from Kathmandu.

A series of aftershocks, one as strong as 6.3 magnitude, hit after the first earthquake Tuesday, the USGS said.

People in Kathmandu are out on the streets fearing further tremors, political analyst Lok Raj Baral said.

Catastrophic Quakes

The South Asia region has a history of catastrophic earthquakes because the tectonic plate that carries the Indian subcontinent is pushing northward into the main Asian plate.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal on April 25 -- the most powerful to hit the country since at least 1934 -- was more than five times stronger than Tuesday’s temblor.

The latest damage coupled with monsoon rains will make relief work more challenging, said Brooke Gibbons, who is working for humanitarian organization CARE International in Kathmandu.

Last month’s disaster killed more than 8,000 people, injured close to 18,000 and triggered deadly avalanches on Mount Everest.

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