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Amid Ongoing Relief Effort, New Major Quake Hits Nepal

Magnitude-7.3 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks strike just weeks after larger quake claimed more than 8,000 lives

People in Kathmandu react after a strong earthquake hit Nepal on Tuesday. (Photo: Mast Irham/EPA)

Less than three weeks after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, a new major quake on Tuesday—measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale—shook the Himalayan nation once again as it claimed additional lives and sent an already jittery population scrambling for safety.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Tuesday's quake struck 42 miles (68km) west of the town of Namche Bazaar, northeast of the capital of Katamandu and close to Mount Everest. The initial quake was followed by at least six strong aftershocks. Agencies report that the quake was felt as far away as the Indian capital, Delhi, and Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Early reporting by The Hindu newspaper, which is offering live updates, said that the collapse of buildings and landslides near the epicenter have killed at least 19 people, with 981 injured. Government officials and others, however, said these early estimates are almost certain to rise. The Guardian is also offering live coverage and rolling updates.

Among the many international relief organizations on the ground in Nepal, Oxfam International said its team, who have been on the ground since the last month's quake, are doing their best to assess the latest damage.

"Our priority is to ensure that people affected have adequate humanitarian assistance and we are able to prevent secondary disasters, including outbreak of disease by providing safe water and critical sanitation support," said Zubin Zaman, the agency's deputy director for India, in a statement. "Hundreds of thousands of displaced people need urgent humanitarian assistance now - including children and women who are forced to be out in the open, huddled in groups with no food, safe water, or shelter."

The Associated Press reports:

Rescue helicopters were sent to districts northeast of the capital of Kathmandu, where landslides and buildings collapsed by the magnitude-7.3 quake may have left people buried, the government said. Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Dhakal named the Sindhupalchowk and Dolkha districts as the hardest hit.

At least four people were killed in Sindhulpalchowk's town of Chautara, according to Paul Dillon, a spokesman with the International Organization for Migration. More than 100 people were injured in surrounding villages, chief district officer Krishna Gyawali said.

Rescuers fanned out to search for survivors in the wreckage of Chautara, which has become a hub for humanitarian aid after the 7.8-magnitude quake on April 25 that killed more than 8,150 people and injured more than 17,860 as it flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings. It was Nepal's worst recorded earthquake since 1934.

Tuesday's quake was deeper, however, coming from a depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles) versus the earlier one at 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.

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