KATHMANDU, May 17 (Reuters) - The number of people killed in Nepal by two major earthquakes has surpassed 8,500, making the disaster the deadliest to hit the Himalayan country on record, as rescuers on Sunday searched for dozens of people still missing in remote villages.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, killing thousands and destroying more than half a million homes, most of them in rural areas cut off from emergency medical care. A second major quake struck on Tuesday(May 12) 76 kilometres (47 miles) east of the capital Kathmandu, just as Nepalis were beginning to recover from the previous earthquake. The home ministry revealed on Sunday the death toll from the two quakes now stands at 8,583.
The previous deadliest earthquake to strike the country - in 1934 - killed at least 8,519 in Nepal, as well as thousands more in neighboring India.
In Dolakha district east of Kathmandu, which was hit hardest by the second quake, dozens of landslides have blocked access to remote villages. In Singati village, covered by a landslide, dozens are still missing and rescue workers are yet to remove debris from all of the village to recover bodies, district officials said.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala told reporters on Sunday 58 foreigners had died in the two earthquakes. Koirala said 112 foreigners were still unaccounted for, although many of those could be backpackers who choose not to register with authorities when they leave the country.
Two earthquakes within a fortnight in Nepal have triggered at least 3,000 landslides, causing large landmass movement in the Himalayan nations.
A satellite study found that several villages in the Langtang valley were destroyed by air pressure waves sweeping down the slopes of the valley, landslides and avalanches in the aftermath of the earthquake. “The avalanches made of snow and ice, mixed with rock material, accelerated on the way down the steep valley slopes, pushing the air and creating strong pressure waves,” the report said. “As a result, the eight highest villages in the Langtang valley were damaged or completely destroyed and many lives were lost.”