A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal before noon today, killing a confirmed 1,394 people across a swath of countries as the violently shaking earth collapsed houses, leveled centuries-old temples, and triggered avalanches in the Himalayas. It was the worst temblor to hit the poor South Asian nation in over 80 years, and officials warned the death toll would rise as more reports come in from far-flung areas. The vast majority of the dead are in Nepal, many in the capital, Kathmandu. But the quake was strong enough to be felt all across the northern part of neighboring India, Bangladesh, Tibet, and Pakistan, where a total of 50 people died. More than two dozen aftershocks jolted Nepal after the first quake. More:
- The Kathmandu Valley is listed as a World Heritage site and is a collection of seven locations around Nepal's capital that reflect the country's rich religious history. In the center of the capital, the nine-story Dharahara Tower, one of Kathmandu's landmarks built by Nepal's royal rulers in the 1800s, collapsed. Nepali journalist and author Shiwani Neupane tweeted: "The sadness is sinking in. We have lost our temples, our history, the places we grew up."
- The US Geological Survey stated the quake's depth was only 7 miles, the largest shallow quake since the 8.2 temblor off the coast of Chile on April 1, 2014. The shallower the quake the more destructive power it carries. Saturday's quake was about 16 times more powerful than the 7.0 quake that devastated Haiti in 2010.
- Tens of thousands of people are now spending the night in the open under a chilly and thunderous sky, with Inspector Yuvraj Khadka of Nepal's national police force saying the rescue effort was continuing through the night.
- At least 10 climbers died on Everest, including Google exec Dan Fredinburg.
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