Breaking just below the earth surface, a powerful earthquake has rattled Nepal, less than three weeks after a devastating quake killed more than 8,000 people.
Residents of the capital Kathmandu rushed out onto the streets as buildings rocked and swayed for more than two minutes, but no deaths or injuries were reported initially in the capital.
An official with the International Organization for Migration said four people were killed in an isolated town called Chautara, adding that search and rescue personnel are now searching for any other victims. Chautara has become a centre of the aid operation in the wake of the April 25 earthquake, with dozens of aid workers now based in the community.
The tremors struck just after lunchtime near Everest base camp and were measured at a depth of 19km, slightly deeper than the 25 April quake which was pinpointed at 15 km. Both are classed as shallow earthquakes which tend to cause more damage at the surface.
The US Geological Survey said it hit with a magnitude of 7.4 before later revising it down to magnitude 7.3. The shockwaves were felt as far away as Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh and the Indian capital Delhi.
Everest base camp has already been evacuated after avalanches and icefalls killed 19 climbers on 25 April. Mountaineering companies called off their spring expeditions on the world’s tallest peak and local Sherpas, who fix the ropes and ladders required to ascend the mountain, have concluded that climbing it in the near future will be impossible.
One of the biggest fears now are landslides in the more remote and mountainous communities. Nepal police advised people to stay in open spaces and to use SMS services instead of voice calls to keep mobile networks free.