There were reports of devastation in outlying areas of the Himalayan country after the quake struck with a magnitude of 7.9, its epicentre 50 miles (80 km) east of Nepal's second largest city, Pokhara.

In pics: Major earthquake rattles Nepal!!!
The worst quake to hit the impoverished Himalayan nation in 81 years also caused damage in neighbouring Indian states and Bangladesh. The quake was shallow, intensifying the amount of energy released over a relatively small area.

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A police spokesman said the death toll had reached 1500 in Nepal according to an initial estimate, most from the Kathmandu Valley. There was little information coming from the outlying areas of the mountainous country and helicopters were circling overheard to get a better sense of the damage.

"Hundreds of people are feared dead and there are reports of widespread damage to property. The devastation is not confined to some areas of Nepal. Almost the entire country has been hit," said Krishna Prasad Dhakal, deputy chief of mission at Nepal's Embassy in New Delhi.

"We are totally cut off from most parts of our country," said Ram Narayan Pandey of the Nepal Disaster Management Authority, who was coordinating relief efforts from Kathmandu.
A 1934 quake of magnitude 8.3 in Nepal killed over 8,500 people.

The death toll in northern India rose to at least 12, with six killed in house collapses in Uttar Pradesh and six more dying in Bihar further east, according to government officials.
A 19th century tower collapsed in Kathmandu when the quake struck shortly before noon local time, with local media reporting that at least 50 people had been trapped there.
The Dharara Tower, built in 1832, was a landmark that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony.
A stump just 10 metres (33 feet) high was all that was left of the 14-storey structure. Several bodies were brought away from the ruins.

At the main hospital in Kathmandu, people with broken limbs and arms were being rushed in for treatment. "There are people everyone where in the corridors and out in the field," said a reporter.
Television news footage showed people being treated on the streets outside hospitals and several bodies lying in rows, covered in blankets.
Kathmandu is home to ancient, wooden Hindu temples. Photographs posted online showed buildings reduced to rubble, with large cracks along roads and residents sitting in the street holding babies.

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