At least 40 people have died and another 1,000 have been injured in a magnitude-7.4 earthquake in Nepal. The disaster comes less than three weeks after thousands were killed in a similar quake in the Himalayan country.
The latest quake was felt on Tuesday at 12:35 p.m. local time (0705 UTC). According to the US Geological Survey, the epicenter was around 83 kilometers (52 miles) east of Nepal's capital Kathmandu, hitting 32 of Nepal's 75 districts.
The quake was measured at a shallow depth of 15 kilometers, with shockwaves felt as far away as the Indian capital, New Delhi, and in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.
Spokesman for Nepal's interior minister, Laxmi Dhakal, said on Tuesday that Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk, the epicenters of the quake and the aftershock, were badly hit.
"They were already in bad shape due to earlier quakes. We expect complete devastation in some of the villages in these areas," Dhakal said, confirming that the quake had also set off at least a dozen landslides in six districts.
The Red Cross also reported large-scale casualties the town of Chautara in Sindhupalchowk with dozens been treated for injuries in a field hospital.
Aid efforts restricted
Nepal is still recovering from a 7.8-magnitude earthquake which devastated several mountain villages and large parts of the capital on April 25. More than 8,000 people were killed and more than 17,000 injured in what was the deadliest quake to hit the impoverished country in 80 years.
Almost three weeks on, humanitarian teams are still working to get water, food, medical assistance and shelter to Nepalis stranded in the country's most remote areas. Some 300,000 homes were destroyed in the natural disaster.
Efforts were once again hindered on Tuesday however, after Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, the main entry point for flights bringing in aid, was briefly closed as a precaution.
The impoverished South Asian country has appealed for billions of dollars in aid from the international community to help with relief and rebuilding efforts.
ksb/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)