Nepal quake toll tops 2,200

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KATHMANDU – Powerful aftershocks rocked Nepal Sunday, panicking survivors of a quake that killed more than 2,200 and triggering fresh avalanches at Everest base camp, as rescuers dug through rubble in the devastated capital Kathmandu.

Terrified residents, many forced to camp out in the capital after Saturday’s quake reduced buildings to rubble, were jolted by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock that compounded the worst disaster to hit the impoverished Himalayan nation in more than 80 years.

At overstretched hospitals, where medics were also treating patients in hastily erected tents, staff were forced to flee from buildings for fear of further collapses.

”Electricity has been cut off, communication systems are congested and hospital are crowded and are running out of room for storing dead bodies,” Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke told AFP.

Climbers reported that the aftershock caused more avalanches at Mount Everest, just after helicopters airlifted to safety those injured when a wall of snow hit base camp on Saturday, killing at least 17 people.

The deadliest disaster in Everest’s history comes almost exactly a year after an avalanche killed 16 sherpa guides, forcing the season to be cancelled, and as around 800 mountaineers were gathered at the start of the new season.

AFP’s Nepal bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly, who was on assignment at base camp, reported that six helicopters had managed to reach the mountain on Sunday after the weather improved overnight.

A stunning image captured by the agency’s South Asia photo chief Roberto Schmidt showed a massive cloud of snow and debris cascading onto base camp, burying scores of climbers and flattening tents.

”People being stretchered out as choppers land — half a dozen this morning,” Kannampilly said in a text message. ”Weather clear, some snowfall.” (AFP)

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