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Nepal earthquake: Death toll rises above 3,000

At least 3,326 people are now known to have died in a massive earthquake which hit Nepal on Saturday, say officials.

More than 6,500 people have been injured, according to the National Emergency Operation Centre.

Dozens of people are also reported to have been killed in neighbouring China and India.

Thousands have spent a second night outside after the 7.8-magnitude quake, which also triggered deadly avalanches around Mount Everest.

Vast tent cities have sprung up in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, for those displaced or afraid to return to their homes as strong aftershocks continue.

Officials have warned that the number of casualties could rise as rescue teams reach remote mountainous areas of western Nepal.

Initial reports suggest that many communities, especially those close to mountainsides, suffered significant quake damage.

"Villages like this are routinely affected by landslides, and it's not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1,000 people to be completely buried by rock falls," Matt Darvas, spokesman for aid agency World Vision said.

A man evacuated by helicopter to Pokhara, 200km from Kathmandu, said almost every home in his village of more than 1,000 houses had been destroyed, Mr Darvas told the BBC.

In Dhading district, 80km west of Kathmandu, people were camped in the open, the hospital was overflowing, the power was off and shops were closed, Reuters news agency reported.

A senior official in Gorkha district, the location of the earthquake's epicentre, told AP he had heard reports of 70% of houses being destroyed.

"Things are really bad in the district, especially in remote mountain villages," Udav Prashad Timalsin said. "There are people who are not getting food and shelter."

The roads to where the epicentre was, northwest of the capital, have been cleared and rescue teams are on their way.

Rescue missions and aid are arriving in Nepal to help cope with the aftermath of the earthquake, the worst to hit Nepal for more than 80 years.

Efforts to dig victims out from under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kathmandu are also continuing.

But home ministry official Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told Reuters rescuers were "in a really bad shape" after working non-stop for two days. "We are all about to collapse."

Renewed panic

A powerful aftershock was felt on Sunday in Nepal, India and Bangladesh, and more avalanches were reported near Everest.

The 6.7-magnitude tremor, centred 60km (40 miles) east of Kathmandu, sent people running in panic for open ground in the city.

It brought down some houses that had been damaged in the initial quake.

At hospitals rattled by the aftershocks, staff moved sick and injured patients outside on Sunday afternoon.

The weather cleared on Monday morning and helicopters are heading out to the Mount Everest base camp to try to bring down 210 stranded climbers.

Foreign climbers and their Nepalese guides around Mt Everest were caught by the tremors and a huge avalanche that buried part of the base camp.

At least 18 people were killed and 60 more injured; others are still missing.

Separately rescue workers have told the BBC that climbers stranded on Everest have been unable to get down because climbing ropes and ladders have been swept away by a series of avalanches.

Tourism Minister Deepak Chanda Amatya told the BBC that more than 50 climbers had been rescued.

At least four out of seven Unesco World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley - three of them ancient city squares - were severely damaged.

Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit told the BBC that the destruction was "culturally speaking an incalculable loss", although he said monuments could be rebuilt.

In Bhaktapur, until now Nepal's best preserved old city, reports say half of all homes have been destroyed and 80% of temples damaged.

Nepal's architectural jewels destroyed

There are 14 international medical teams on the way to Nepal, the UN says, and up to 15 international search-and-rescue have been sent, the UN says.

Offers of help have come in from around the world. Some foreign teams have already arrived and are helping with search and rescue efforts - braving aftershocks at Kathmandu airport that forced some aircraft to circle before landing.

The UN children's agency says nearly one million children in Nepal urgently need humanitarian assistance as they were particularly vulnerable.

The country is running out of water and food, and there are frequent power cuts, the UN says.

Heavy rain earlier on Saturday further worsened conditions with UN officials expressing concern that thunderstorms that could harm people staying outdoors and lead to a shortage of vaccines against disease including diarrhoea and measles.

Two more earthquakes today

TWO MORE QUAKES were recorded off Caribbean islands today, bringing the number to three in the region in less than 24 hours.

The latest occurred at 10:49 a.m. at a depth of 30km, or roughly 79km east of Fort-de-France, Martinique and some 84 km north east of Castries, Saint Lucia.

It measured 4.3 on the Richter scale.

The Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies also recorded a 3.8 magnitude quake at 5:02 a.m., 26km south southwest of Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

These follow a 5.4 magnitude earthquake (below) off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago last night. (SAT)

Earthquake off Haida Gwaii shakes up debate on B.C. tanker traffic
Danny Kresnyak

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake off the coast of Haida Gwaii has shaken up the debate over possible impacts of an earthquake near the Northern Gateway pipeline termination point or bitumen tankers in hostile open water.

Proposed shipping routes bring tankers close to the edge of the island chain near the epicenter of this morning's quake, which registered approximately 186 kilometres west-south-west of Bella Bella.

Bill Yovanovich of Skidegate, a community of 900 people on the west coast of Haida Gwaii, was in bed when the earthquake struck. He said it was "like a heavy wind" and although the damage was minimal it has reignited fears of the potential to respond to a major spill in the isolated region.

"It's a big concern," Yovanovich said in a telephone interview with the Vancouver Observer.
"We're pretty remote up here and after watching how mishandled the response to the English Bay spill has been it makes me wonder if all the homework has been done."

Yovanovich said today's earthquake has brought back memories of a larger 7.7 magnitude earthquake that caused many to evacuate after warnings of a possible tsunami brewing off the coast line in October of 2012.

Back then, Old Masset economic development officer John Disney said, the experience was harrowing and not uncommon.

"We have the top two earthquake records in Canada now and really we take it in stride. We have earthquakes here all the time."

Master Mariner Mal Walsh, a marine and oil expert with over 40 years of experience in international oil exploration and shipping, noted in two previous articles in The Vancouver Observer that while he does not oppose pipelines, the tanker routes proposed by Enbridge present serious risks to the B.C. coast.

"The Enbridge tanker transport proposal, in its current form, represents too great a risk to a remote and still pristine area of BCs Central Coast, a region of this coast that is exposed to the most severe winter weather conditions," Walsh wrote in July 2012.

Walsh's commentary did not mention earthquakes specifically but focused on extreme weather in the Queen Charlotte Sound that could become a serious threat to the coast in the event of a bitumen spill.

"Do we really think that the high level of shipping proposed would operate without problems, year in and year out?" Walsh asked at the time.

"And this is not only considering the narrow channels of the port approach, but even more critically in the open ocean of the offshore approaches to the coast."

Kitimat, the exit point of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline, operates a port situated over 100 nautical miles from the open hostile waters of the Queen Charlotte Sound and the Dixon Entrance.

Walsh said this can only be reached through "navigationally difficult and narrow channels," and the shipping plan "clearly represents a cheaper fix for the pipeline termination point for tar sands bitumen export." He said this design shows "the lack of respect given to the power of the sea and the vagaries of human error or mechanical breakdown."

Requests for comment from Enbridge and the federal Ministry of Environment received no response by publication time.

However, the MoE has stated in response to previous stories that Canada has a "polluter pay" system in place to address spills and a mobilized combined response effort from government and private enterprise the West Coast Marine Response Corporation to contain the damage.

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