(By Estera Popowska)
At least 3,600 people have been confirmed dead and several thousand others injured following a devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday.
Reports say a 7.8 magnitude quake hit 80 kilometers northwest of Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, destroying large parts of the city's historic center.
According to VOA, the earthquake hit the mountainous region minutes before noon local time on Saturday, destroying historic structures of wood and brick in the ancient capital city. At least 180 people were reported dead when the city's iconic Dharahara Tower, a UNESCO world heritage site, collapsed. To the east of Kathmandu, avalanches shook Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth , killing at least 18 climbers and burying entire base camps.
By early Sunday, sources reported to VOA deaths and extensive property damage in the Tibet Autonomous Region, hundreds of kilometers north of Kathmandu.Scores of people were killed in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and elsewhere along the remote Nepal-Chinese border region report additional casualties.
The United Nations reportedly said 35 of Nepal’s 75 districts are affected in a country of 30 million people. According to reports, international recue and aid has started moving in to assist Nepal. UNICEF says nearly one million children need the agency's assistance.
VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports that emergency officials in Kathmandu say they are "overwhelmed" with rescue and assistance requests from across the country.
The United States pledged an immediate $1 million for disaster relief and activated an elite Virginia-based earthquake rescue team. The 56-member unit deployed Sunday along with several USAID officials en route to Nepal.
India’s foreign secretary, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said three tons of supplies and 40 members of India's National Disaster Response Force were flying to Nepal. The country is also evacuating its nationals by air.
China, Germany, Canada and Israel are among the countries also sending disaster personnel to the area. Saturday's earthquake was the strongest in 81 years in Nepal, when an even mightier jolt in 1934 killed more than 10,000 people(VOA)