World
500 dead in quake: Nepal official
As many as 500 people were killed in a major earthquake that rocked Nepal on Saturday, a Nepalese official said here.
 
Deputy Chief of Mission of Nepal High Commission in New Delhi, Krishna Prasad Dhakal, told the media that according to local reports reaching here, at least 500 people have been killed across Nepal.
 
"We are trying to ascertain the exact number (of casualties)," he said.
 
He also said that the Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who had gone to Thailand on an official visit, is cutting short his sojourn and coming back immediately.
 

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Kathmandu airport shut, flights from India cancelled
The Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu was shut on Saturday after a massive earthquake rocked Nepal just before noon, resulting in the cancellation of all the eight subsequent return flights from India bound for the capital city.
 
An IndiGo flight for Nepal, which left at 11:30 a.m. from New Delhi, had to be recalled and the departures of two others were suspended, according to authorities here. The flight of Nepalese carrier Buddha Air, bound for Varanasi, was among the eight that were called off.
 
The earthquake struck at 11:41 a.m. India time.
 
The officials also said an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah to Kathmandu was diverted to the Indian capital. An Indigo flight was also called back from Kathmandu, while the departure of two flights of Jet Airways and Air India were stayed, they added.
 
"SpiceJet flights to Kathmandu are on hold till we get more news on the impact of earthquake and the readiness of Kathmandu airport," a spokesperson told IANS. "Due to Kathmandu airport closure, following flights for today stand cancelled," Jet Airways said and listed two flights each, from and to Kathmandu. 
 
Eight return flights from India -- five from New Delhi and one each from Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi -- were to connect with Kathmandu on Friday.
 
The principal airport in Nepal suffered damage in the quake that measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, reports reaching here said.
 
Sources at Indira Gandhi International Airport said modifications will be made in the schedules once a clear picture emerges. "We are assessing the situation," an official said.

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19th-century Kathmandu tower collapses
The Dharahara, a nine-storeyed 19th-century tower, collapsed here after a huge earthquake shook Nepal and caused widespread devastation on Saturday, a media report said.
 
Hundreds of people are reportedly trapped in the debris, a posting on Twitter said.
 
According to bloggers, the tower, built in 1832, was an iconic monument erected by Nepal's first prime minister, Bhimsen Thapa.
 
It was built as a military watch tower but became one of Kathmandu's key landmarks.
 
The quake measured 7.5 on the Richter scale, later revised to 7.9 by USGS. Half an hour later, another earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale hit 49 km east of Lamjung.

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