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Devastating Earthquake Hits Nepal, Kills More Than 1,000

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. Horrendous scenes of death and destruction from Nepal today after a powerful earthquake that started outside Kathmandu and was felt as far away as India, Tibet and Bangladesh. The death toll is already in the thousands in Nepal, and the government has asked for international help in dealing with the disaster. Earlier, I spoke with Kunda Dixit. He's an editor with the Nepali Times of Kathmandu.

KUNDA DIXIT: Most of the casualties seem to be in really remote mountain villages where even the news has not really come out in detail about the devastation there. But we're hearing reports of entire villages being wiped out in landslides and so forth. Here in Kathmandu itself, the damage and destruction was not as serious as first feared. But it's a totally different story in the rest of the country.

RATH: And as we're talking it's nighttime there. How are people sheltering for the night?

DIXIT: Oh, it's - I've never seen anything like it. Hundreds of thousands of people are sleeping out in the open in tents, wrapped in blankets. Although it's early summer, it's been a really cold day all day today, threatening rain and thunderstorms. And then there's no electricity, even in the capital. Large parts of the capital have no power. So it's dark and cold, and people are out in the open.

RATH: Right now, what's getting in the way of getting help to people who need it?

DIXIT: Just the remoteness of the area where the epicenter is, and also the fact that the phones are down in those places. I just heard someone who had walked for the entire day to get to a place where he could make a phone call. And he said that 90 percent of the houses in his village have been damaged or destroyed. And there are people trapped, and there's no help at all.

RATH: In terms of these remote parts of the country, what kind of help is most urgently needed there, and how is it going to get there?

DIXIT: Well, from some of these reports I've heard, it's basically, you know, rescuing people from, you know, trapped inside collapsed buildings. Others would be access, and as I am speaking to you, we have another aftershock right now. I think - so immediate help would be evacuating the wounded and digging out the survivors from the rubble.

RATH: You mentioned you just felt an aftershock. How frequently is that happening? How many have there been?

DIXIT: Well, it's just amazing. I mean, the whole day has been like sitting in a rocking chair - more than 25, and 15 of those above five magnitude.

RATH: Wow.

DIXIT: So minor earthquakes in their own right and quite frequent.

RATH: Kunda Dixit is an editor for the Nepali Times in Kathmandu. Kunda, thank you so much, and please take care. Thank you.

DIXIT: Thanks. Thanks, Arun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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