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1,400 Confirmed Dead In Nepal After Powerful Earthquake

Emergency rescue workers clear debris in Basantapur Durbar Square while searching for survivors in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday.

Updated at 11:10 p.m. ET

The desperate search for survivors continues Sunday in Nepal. Strong aftershocks woke thousands of Nepalese who were forced to spend the cold night outdoors.

The Nepalese home ministry puts the latest death toll at 1,805 killed and 4,718 injured, according to the BBC. Doubtless those numbers will change throughout Sunday, and more from neighboring countries.

The BBC is reporting that many countries and international charities are offering aid to the country to help recover from the disaster.

Steve Herman with the Voice of America Asia bureau chief tweeted that 17 bodies have been recovered at Everest base camp, making it the worst disaster ever to hit the mountain.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

Authorities in Nepal say nearly 1,400 people are confirmed dead following a powerful earthquake near the capital Kathmandu, where homes and ancient temples collapsed amid the intense temblor and strong aftershocks.

Dozens of people in three neighboring countries were also killed. At least eight were reported dead on Mount Everest, and perhaps dozens more trapped by a quake-triggered avalanche that hit the world's tallest peak at the height of the climbing season.

The death toll was likely to continue to rise — perhaps dramatically — as more information comes in from remote and isolated regions affected by the magnitude 7.8 quake. The Associated Press says that the earthquake "shook several cities across northern India, and was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan, Lhasa in Tibet, and in Dhaka, Bangladesh." Kathmandu's international airport was shut down following the temblor, the news agency says.

"We need support from the various international agencies which are more knowledgeable and equipped to handle the kind of emergency we face now," Nepal's Information Minister Minendra Rijal was quoted by the BBC as saying.

It is the worst quake to hit the South Asian nation since 1934, when a massive one all but destroyed Kathmandu.

In today's temblor, a Nepali police spokesman says 1,394 people are confirmed dead in that country. At least 38 others were confirmed dead in neighboring India, 12 in the Tibet region of China and two in Bangladesh, according to the AP.

In Kathmandu, people described panic and ruin amid collapsed buildings. The Associated Press quotes Pushpa Das, a laborer, as saying he ran from his house when the first quake struck but could not escape a collapsing wall that injured his arm.

"It was very scary. The earth was moving ... I am waiting for treatment but the (hospital) staff is overwhelmed," he told AP.

NPR's Julie McCarthy, reporting from India, says it is causing workers in offices to flee buildings there. India is sending planeloads of supplies and personnel to assist Nepal in rescue and relief efforts.

"Survivors pulled from the rubble are swamping hospitals in the capital — many with broken bones," Julie says. "Others are seeking treatment on the streets. [Kathmandu] has lost its historic nine-story Tower. It collapsed along with many other archeologically significant sites."

Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that the U.S. was "working closely" with Nepal "to provide assistance and support.

"Ambassador [Peter] Bodde has issued a disaster declaration in order to immediately release an initial $1 million for humanitarian assistance. USAID is preparing to deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team and is activating an Urban Search and Rescue Team to accompany disaster experts and assist with assessments of the situation."

The quake, with its epicenter near Lamjung, about 50 miles northwest of the capital, struck just before noon local time and was followed by about 20 aftershocks, one as strong as magnitude 6.6, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Oxfam's country director for Nepal, Cecilia Keizer, said in a statement that telephone lines and electricity had been severed in many areas, "making charging mobile phones difficult."

"The water is also cut off. The number of people killed is continuing to rise. Many of the old houses have been destroyed and at least one large apartment block has come down in Kathmandu," she said.

"Given the closeness to the epicenter, Pokhara must also be badly affected," Keizer said of the city of more than 250,000 that lies closest to the quake's origin.

Meanwhile, a senior mountaineering guide, Ang Tshering, was quoted by the AP as saying an avalanche swept the face of Mount Everest after the earthquake. He said at least 10 climbers had died at Base Camp, but Gyanendra Shretha, an official with Nepal's mountaineering department, said eight bodies had been recovered. Earlier, a Nepali official said 30 people had been hurt on the mountain.

This is a breaking news story and we will update this post as new information becomes available.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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