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Saturday, April 25, 2015

devastating earthquake of 7.8M in Nepal ~ dharahara tower flattened

Nepal, the landlocked Nation is in news for wrong reasons. Nepal is the world's 93rd largest country by land mass and the 41st most populous country. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India.  Today is stands devastated by earthquake and more than 700 are feared dead according to varied reports.

Of the many places of tourist attraction, Dharahara also called Bhimsen Tower, was a nine storey 61.88 metres (203.0 ft) tall tower at the center of Sundhara in Kathmandu.  It was a built in 1832 by the then Prime Minister of Nepal Bhimsen Thapa. It was a part of the Architecture of Kathmandu recognized by UNESCO. The tower had a spiral staircase containing 213 steps. The eighth floor held a circular balcony for observers that provided a panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley.

According to US Geological survey a strong earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on Richter scale and a series of aftershocks struck Nepal today with its epicentre laying near 35km E of Lamjung, Nepal.  The quakes also jolted parts of North and Northeast India. Widespread damage has been reported from Nepal.  The April 25, 2015 ‘M 7.8 Nepal earthquake’ occurred as the result of thrust faulting on or near the main frontal thrust between the subducting India plate and the overriding Eurasia plate to the north. At the location of this earthquake, approximately 80 km to the northeast of the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, the India plate is converging with Eurasia at a rate of 45 mm/yr towards the north-northeast, driving the uplift of the Himalayan mountain range. The preliminary location, size and focal mechanism of the April 25 earthquake are consistent with its occurrence on the main subduction thrust interface between the India and Eurasia plates.

Seismicity in the Himalaya dominantly results from the continental collision of the India and Eurasia plates, which are converging at a relative rate of 40-50 mm/yr. Northward underthrusting of India beneath Eurasia generates numerous earthquakes and consequently makes this area one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth. The surface expression of the plate boundary is marked by the foothills of the north-south trending Sulaiman Range in the west, the Indo-Burmese Arc in the east and the east-west trending Himalaya Front in the north of India.

Tremors were felt across the region, with further loss of life in India, Bangladesh and on Mount Everest.  The Nepalese Govt has declared a state of emergency in the affected areas. Nepali Information Minister Minendra Rijal said there had been "massive damage" at the epicentre, from where little information is emerging.  Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam has appealed for international humanitarian assistance.

The ancient Dharhara tower - which is one of the most prominent buildings to have collapsed in the heart of Kathmandu’s historic old city - was one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. The white nine-storey tower was once the place where kings were once crowned. The Dharhara tower has now been reduced to just its base when the earthquake struck.

Dharahara in Kathmandu was the second such tower built by Bhimsen Thapa. The first tower was built eight years earlier in 1824 and was 11 stories high, two stories taller than the Dharahara. Dharahara is said to be built for Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari, who was the niece of Bhimsen Thapa. During the earthquake of 1834, both towers survived, but the first Bhimsen's tower suffered severe damage. A hundred years later, on 15 January 1934, another earthquake completely destroyed the Bhimsen's first tower. Only two of the 11 stories on the second tower remained. The then Prime Minister of Nepal, Juddha Shumsher carried out the renovation work of the Dharahara tower to restore it to its previous form. While the original Bhimsen Tower was obliterated, Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari's tower got its name, 'Bhimsen Stambha' or 'Bhimsen Tower'.

Google has launched a 'person finder' for worried friends, relatives and collagues of people potentially caught up in the Nepal earthquake.

There have been devastating tremors in Nepal earlier and one prays that the death toll and devastation is much lesser.  Sad for the people of Nepal.

With grief – S. Sampathkumar

25th Apr 2015.

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