US & World

Nepal quake: Magnitude-7.3 aftershock slams region

Residents gather in an open area after an earthquake hit in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Tuesday. It was the second major earthquake in less than three weeks.
Residents gather in an open area after an earthquake hit in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Tuesday. It was the second major earthquake in less than three weeks.
Bikram Rai/AP

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Nepal is reeling after a magnitude-7.3 aftershock struck the region Tuesday on the heels of a 7.8 earthquake that hit only two weeks ago, killing more than 8,000 people. While such massive aftershocks are unusual, one quake expert with the U.S. Geological Survey tells KPCC they are also not surprising. Meanwhile, the U.S. military reports that a Marine Corps helicopter that was in the area assisting with relief efforts has gone missing.

Updates

11:12 a.m.: US Marine helicopter missing in Nepal earthquake aid mission

11:01 a.m.: Massive aftershocks unusual but not unexpected

7:11 a.m.: Another powerful earthquake strikes Nepal

11:12 a.m.: US Marine helicopter missing in Nepal earthquake aid mission

A U.S. military helicopter carrying six Marines and two Nepalese Army soldiers went missing during a mission in Nepal delivering aid to earthquake victims, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday, but so far there have been no indications that the aircraft crashed.

U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren said an Indian helicopter in the air nearby at the time heard radio chatter about a possible fuel problem. He said the Huey had dropped off supplies in one location and was en route to a second site when contact was lost. He said officials are hopeful that the aircraft is simply missing because there has been no smoke or other signs of a crash.

Navy Capt. Chris Sims says the Huey was conducting disaster relief operations near Charikot, Nepal, on Tuesday, around 9 a.m. EDT.

Warren said other U.S. aircraft had searched the area, but because it's now dark members of the Nepalese military are conducting the search on foot. He said they are moving toward the second aid location to see if the helicopter landed near there.

The aircraft is part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469.

The incident is under investigation.

— Lolita C. Baldor/Associated Press

11:01 a.m.: Massive aftershocks unusual but not unexpected

Nepal is reeling after a magnitude-7.3 aftershock struck the region Tuesday on the heels of a 7.8 earthquake that hit only two weeks ago.

But while an aftershock of this size is unusual, it’s not unexpected.

Nepal sits above a site where two massive continental plates are butting heads. Long ago, that friction created the Himalayan Mountains. Today – it’s creating a series of deadly quakes.

The rule of thumb for aftershocks is that you’d typically expect at least one about a magnitude unit lower than the main shock. In this case that would only be a 6.8. But Ken Hudnut of the USGS says that’s just an average, and today’s quake isn’t out of the ordinary.

"It’s larger than your average biggest aftershock but it’s not like an unprecedented number. So people that study the statistics of aftershocks would not be too surprised to see one this size," Hudnut told KPCC.

Hudnut says the continental plates under Nepal are still shifting. He says residents can expect aftershocks to continue.

In fact, it could take years before all the quakes linked to the original 7.8 die down.

— Sanden Totten/KPCC

7:11 a.m.: Another powerful earthquake strikes Nepal

A magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck Nepal on Tuesday, just over two weeks after a massive magnitude-7.8 quake killed more than 8,000 people.

The United States Geological Survey puts today's quake as close to the capital, Kathmandu, as the one two weeks ago.

"We're obviously hearing of buildings destroyed, buildings collapsed, buildings falling, we're hearing about casualties, but the numbers are not known yet," Jamie McGoldrick, Nepal resident coordinator for the United Nations Development Program, told The New York Times.

The epicenter of the quake was near the Chinese border, about 50 miles from Kathmandu.

The Associated Press and Reuters report that government officials say at least 19 people were killed and 981 were injured in the quake. News footage showed crowds of residents standing in the middle of the streets in Kathmandu after evacuating.

The Nepali Times posted pictures of buildings and homes that had collapsed.

Parliament was in session the moment the earthquake struck on Tuesday. Cameras were rolling and they captured the MPs leaving the building as the ground begins to shake:

Video

— Eyder Peralta/NPR