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Subject 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake in Nepal Kills Hundreds and Levels Buildings
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Original Message NEW DELHI ó An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.8 shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu, flattening sections of the cityís historic center and trapping sightseers in a 200-foot tower that crumbled into a pile of bricks.

A spokesman for Nepalís Home Ministry, Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, said that the preliminary death toll stood at 686, nearly all in the valley around Katmandu, and that thousands of people had been injured. Trekkers reported a major avalanche on Mount Everest, where two people were reported dead, according to tourism officials. In addition, 34 deaths had been reported in India.

The earthquake struck just before noon, and residents of Katmandu ran into the streets and other open spaces as buildings fell, throwing up clouds of dust, and wide cracks opened on paved streets and the walls of city buildings. Overflowing hospitals were treating injured patients on the streets, and Nepalís leading television station, its studios crushed, was broadcasting from the pavement outside
[link to www.nytimes.com]
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