Death Toll Mounts To Over 5,000 From Earthquake in Nepal That Shook Mount Everest Caused Avalanche — Landslides in Rural Area — More Than 100,000 Flee Kathmandu, Nepal — Deaths Could Exceed 10,000 –American People Provide Assistance To Survivors — Videos
Story 1: Death Toll Mounts To Over 5,000 From Earthquake in Nepal That Shook Mount Everest Caused Avalanche — Landslides in Rural Area — More Than 100,000 Flee Kathmandu, Nepal — Deaths Could Exceed 10,000 –American People Provide Assistance To Survivors — Videos
Poster of the Nepal Earthquake of 25 April 2015 – Magnitude 7.8
The April 25, 2015
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 northwest 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.
Although a major plate boundary with a history of large-to-great sized earthquakes, large earthquakes on the Himalayan thrust are rare in the documented historical era. Just four events of M6 or larger have occurred within 250 km of the April 25, 2015 earthquake over the past century.
One, a M 6.9 earthquake in August 1988, 240 km to the southeast of the April 25 event, caused close to 1500 fatalities. The largest, an M 8.0 event known as the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, occurred in a similar location to the 1988 event. It severely damaged Kathmandu, and is thought to have caused around 10,600 fatalities.
Nepalese officials have denied reports from some international charities that Western tourists were given priority during evacuations from around Mount Everest
About 210 foreign trekkers who were stranded in Langtang, north of Kathmandu, are reported to have been airlifted to the nearby town of Dhunche
At the scene: Sanjoy Majumder, BBC News, Kathmandu
There’s a rush to get out of Kathmandu. Thousands of people are trying to flee – some trying to head out to the remote districts to see how their families are, others including tourists trying to head towards India by road.
But there simply aren’t enough buses to take them out and the highways are choked with vehicles, people and relief convoys. Tempers are flaring. The police came to the bus station to restrain those trying to board crowded buses, which made it worse.
Outside Kathmandu airport, there are lines of tourists trying their best to get a ticket to fly home. The airlines have laid on extra flights but it’s not enough and also, the airport is finding it hard to cope with the additional rush as well as the influx of cargo aircraft bringing in relief material.
Rescue operations resumed on Wednesday following bad weather.
Bella Messenger, an NGO worker in an isolated area of Gorkha district, told the BBC that Chinese lorries had brought aid to the area, but many people remained cut off.
“You can’t get to some villages without a helicopter,” she said.
There was some good news when a man trapped in the rubble of a Kathmandu hotel for 82 hours was pulled to safety by Nepalese and French teams.
Rishi Khanal, 27, said he had been surrounded by dead bodies and drank his own urine to survive.
“I had some hope but by yesterday I’d given up. I was sure no-one was coming for me. I was certain I was going to die,” he told AP news agency from his hospital bed.
Areas worst affected
More than eight million people have been affected by the quake, the UN says. About 10,000 people have been injured.
Hundreds of thousands of people continue to live in temporary camps, in squalid conditions with very little food and water, says the BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Kathmandu.
Officials admit they have been overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, but highlight the challenges it poses in one of Asia’s poorest countries.
“The government is trying its best to deliver the relief materials,” National Disaster Management chief Rameshwor Dangal told the BBC. “The problem is the level of disaster is very high and it’s spread over more than 20 districts.”
Renaud Meyer of the UN Development Programme said Kathmandu’s single-runway airport was struggling to accommodate the rush of aid flights, but teams were delivering supplies as quickly as possible.
On Mount Everest – where the quake triggered an avalanche that killed at least 18 people – all stranded climbers have now been evacuated from base camp.
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U.S. Air Force personnel and United States Agency for International Development members have arrived at the Kathmandu International Airport. Nearly 130 USAID members and approximately 55,000 pounds of aid and relief supplies will help support the local people in search and rescue efforts
U.S. Military In Nepal Earthquake Relief Effort – C-17 Loading With Vital Aid
U.S. Air Force personnel load relief supplies for victims of the Nepal earthquake in a USAF C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., April 26, 2015. The United States Agency to International Development relief efforts included eight pallets, 59 Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel and five search and rescue dogs. Video by Staff Sgt. Kathryn Lozier | 1st Combat Camera Squadron | Date: 04.26.2015
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Nepal Earthquake: Death Toll Passes 4,400 Amid Fears Over Remote Areas
BY CNN WIRE AND KAREEN WYNTER
Rescue and aid workers in Nepal are struggling to cope with the scale of the devastation dealt by Saturday’s powerful earthquake — digging through rubble by hand, performing surgeries in makeshift operating theaters, scouring notoriously difficult terrain for more victims.
But power blackouts in the capital city of Kathmandu, supply shortages and difficulties getting around complicated the efforts.
By Tuesday morning, more than 4,400 people were confirmed dead as a result of the earthquake, the overwhelming majority of them in Nepal. Over 8,000 people were reported to have suffered injuries.
The United Nations estimated that the disaster had affected 8 million people across the Himalayan nation. More than 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance, the world body said in a situation report Monday.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said doctors at one Kathmandu hospital had moved patients from the 120-year-old building and into another structure, where they were operating on patients in rooms normally not used as operating theaters.
Hospitals were running short on supplies despite international efforts to bring in aid. Numerous aid groups and at least 16 nations rushed aid and workers to Nepal, with more on the way.
And across the region, thousands prepared to spend another night outdoors, fearing that damaged buildings could collapse if there are more aftershocks.
The destruction in Kathmandu, the capital, is stark: revered temples reduced to rubble, people buried in the wreckage of their homes, hospitals short on medical supplies and overflowing with patients. Serious damage is also reported in villages in the surrounding valley.
But farther out across Nepal’s rugged landscape — closer to the epicenter of Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 quake — the situation is disturbingly murky.
“Information about remote areas is severely lacking at this time,” said Devendra Singh Tak, an official with Save the Children, noting that roads were blocked and communications unreliable.
Reports of ‘total or near total destruction’
Patchy reports have filtered through of entire villages leveled by the quake or engulfed by landslides.
“Some of the initial surveys that we’re hearing of from the zones closer to the epicenter talk about total or near total destruction,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Tak, who is in Kathmandu, said Save the Children and other aid groups were sending out teams Monday to more remote areas. The Nepalese government said it was flying helicopters to places it couldn’t reach by road.
“That’s where one needs to get out and conduct rescue and relief,” Tak said.
UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, said Sunday that nearly 1 million Nepalese children urgently need assistance.
China, India, France, Italy, Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore and South Korea were among the nations sending aid and search and rescue crews. The European Union and the World Health Organization were also sending aid.
The United States announced Monday it would send $9 million, on top of the $1 million it had previously announced. That’s in addition to 45 tons of aid, a USAID disaster team and a search and rescue team already dispatched to Nepal. A U.S. Special Forces team in Nepal for high-altitude training was also helping out, according to the Pentagon.
Video shows survivor pulled from rubble
Despite lengthening odds, rescuers continued to look for survivors.
On Monday, video posted to Facebook showed rescuers pulling a boy out of debris after three hours of continuous digging.
“Look up, look up, open your eyes,” a rescuer says to the boy.
Hopes of finding many more people alive appeared to be fading as vital hours ticked by.
The death toll in Nepal stood at 4,352 Tuesday morning, according to the country’s Home Ministry. Another 72 people died in India, while China reported 25 deaths. More than 8,000 people have been injured, authorities said.
Most of the casualty numbers in Nepal are believed to have come mainly from Kathmandu and the surrounding area. They are expected to rise further as information emerges from more remote areas.
4 U.S. citizens among dead
Four U.S. citizens are among the dead, acting deputy State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Monday. He did not identify them. The State Department identified one as Vinh Truong, a Vietnamese-American who was on a 10-day hiking trip in Nepal. His body was found at the Mount Everest base camp, the State Department said.
The other three are:
Google executive Dan Fredinburg died in an avalanche on Mount Everest, according to an Instagram post by his sister on his account. Eve Girawong of New Jersey also died in an avalanche on Everest, according to Madison Mountaineering, the Seattle-based company that led her expedition. Girawong, a doctor, was at the Everest base camp when she was swept away to her death. Tom Taplin, a filmmaker from Santa Monica, California, was making a documentary on Everest climbers when wind stirred by the avalanche caused him to take a fall, CNN affiliate KABC reported.
The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu remains open and is sheltering 305 U.S. citizens, Rathke said.
Panorama of devastation
The earthquake and its aftershocks have turned one of the world’s most scenic regions into a panorama of devastation.
“The journey towards my family home in Sitapaila was a map of quake destruction, with many houses — old and new — torn apart,” wrote freelance journalist Sunir Pandey.
“A high wall surrounding a monastery had collapsed and the nuns had run to a nearby field,” he wrote. “A mud-and-brick cottage had fallen on a blue motorbike but no trace could be found of its rider. Everywhere, survivors gathered wherever they could find open space — fields, private compounds, empty roadside lots.”
At night, many Nepalis slept outside, shivering in the frigid air of the Himalayan Mountains but at least safe from falling debris.
“Even people staying in hotels, they carried their blankets and pillows and were sleeping either on the ground floor or out in the open,” Tak of Save the Children said.
Residents of Kathmandu are banding together to get by, with stores shuttered and very few sources of food and drinkable water. People have independently set up communal kitchens for cooking.
Destruction of temples strikes spiritual blow
Many of the city’s centuries-old buildings, which had survived countless earthquakes over the generations and provided a sense of national pride, have been toppled.
The destruction of many important temples in the heart of Kathmandu has deepened the despair many Nepalis are experiencing. Religion is an important part of life in the mainly Hindu nation.
The iconic buildings, which are often the first stop of any tourist’s tour of the city, crumbled before the eyes of onlookers as the quake struck Saturday.
Police officers and volunteers continued to pick through the temples’ rubble on Monday, using their bare hands, shovels and pieces of metal. They shunned the use of heavier gear to dig through the wreckage for fear of harming any survivors, bodies or priceless artifacts buried within.
Tourism has been one of the few economic bright spots in Nepal, one of the poorest nations in the world. But now that industry is threatened after the earthquake, which set off deadly avalanches on Mount Everest, the country’s most famous attraction.
Damage to climbing infrastructure on the mountain, not to mention the overall situation in Nepal, means the climbing season is over for the year, climber Jim Davidson told CNN from the Everest base camp, where he was evacuated after spending two days on the mountain.
China has canceled all climbs on its side of the mountain, the Xinhua news agency reported Monday.
Tourism directly accounts for about 4% of Nepal’s gross domestic product and indirectly contributes to 8%, according to IHS Asia Pacific chief economist Rajiv Biswas.
All told, the earthquake could cost Nepal $5 billion, Biswas estimated Monday — a huge hit against its gross domestic product of $19.3 billion in 2014.
Relief effort faces challenges
Humanitarian workers say medical supplies are reported to be scarce. Doctors at Kathmandu’s overcrowded hospitals are appealing for help.
“I’ve seen a lot of situations around the world, and this is as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” said CNN’s Gupta, a neurosurgeon.
“They need more resources, they need more personnel here right now, and they’re expecting many more patients as these rescue operations go on.”
International efforts are well underway to send aid into Nepal, but it was unclear whether enough was trickling through to the places that needed it most.
Some aid flights were delayed Sunday after a big aftershock hit Nepal. The country’s mountainous terrain makes it harder to move supplies far beyond the capital.
A CNN team at Kathmandu’s main airport on Monday saw large numbers of cargo planes on the tarmac, but also witnessed chaotic scenes as officials struggled to cope with the influx of aid and the large numbers of people trying get out of the country.
The airport was also facing some of the shortages afflicting the disaster-hit nation.
“Even at the airport in Kathmandu, there is no drinking water or food or other provisions available, so one can imagine what might be happening in other parts of the country,” said Tak of Save the Children.
The death toll in Nepal’s earthquake could reach 10,000, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has said, as survivors’ despair turned to anger at the government’s slow response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country, with food, water and other essentials in desperately short supply.
“The government is doing all it can for rescue and relief on a war footing,” Koirala said in an interview with Reuters. “It is a challenge and a very difficult hour for Nepal.”
The death toll in Nepal alone rose to 5,057 on Tuesday, according to the country’s Emergency Operation Centre, which said more than 10,000 people have been injured. There are warnings the full extent of the tragedy will not be known until rescue teams have reached “flattened” villages in remote regions.
Nepalese police and volunteers clear the rubble while looking for survivors at the compound of a collapsed temple in Kathmandu.
Nepalese police and volunteers clear the rubble while looking for survivors at the compound of a collapsed temple in Kathmandu. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
“The death toll could go up to 10,000 because information from remote villages hit by the earthquake is yet to come in,” Koirala said.
In neighbouring India 61 people were killed and China’s official Xinhua News Agency said 25 people had died in Tibet. Eighteen others were killed in avalanches on Mount Everest.
Another avalanche hit a village in the district of Rasuwa, north of Kathmandu, on Tuesday, leaving up to 250 people missing. Ghodatabela, about a 12-hour walk from the nearest town, is along a popular trekking route, but it was not clear if the missing included trekkers.
Health workers said they feared a major health crisis was unfolding among survivors of the quake who are living in the open or in overcrowded tents with no access to sanitation or clean water.
On Tuesday helicopters crisscrossed the skies above Gorkha, close to the epicentre of Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 quake, ferrying the injured to clinics and taking emergency supplies back to remote villages. Aid workers who had reached the region described entire villages reduced to rubble.
“In some villages, about 90% of the houses have collapsed. They’re just flattened,” said Rebecca McAteer, an American physician. Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for Gorkha, warned that people were not getting food and shelter.
Nepal earthquake: what the thousands of victims share is that they are poor
That grim assessment was supported by World Vision aid worker Matt Darvas, who reached Gorkha on Monday. “It does not seem aid is reaching here very quickly,” he said.
“Further north from here the reports are very disturbing,” he said, adding that up to 75% of the buildings in Singla may have collapsed. There has been no contact with that village since Saturday night.
In the town of Dhulikhel, the main hospital, one of only two serving the Kabre district, with a population of 380,000, was due to run out of diesel fuel for its generator at midnight on Monday.
“We are trying to get more but it’s difficult. We’ve a little bit of solar but not enough to light the operating theatres and the wards,” said Dr Deepak Shrestha.
So far, police say they have 373 confirmed deaths in Gorkha. The death toll is expected to rise, though not “into the thousands”, said local officials. However vast numbers of homes have been destroyed, leaving tens of thousands at least exposed to chilly late spring Himalayan temperatures and frequent rain.
Victims of the earthquake rest inside an Indian Air Force helicopter as they are evacuated from Trishuli Bazar to the airport in Kathmandu. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
People rest inside an Indian Air Force helicopter as they are evacuated from Trishuli Bazar to Kathmandu. Photograph: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters
Efforts to distribute aid are proceeding at an agonisingly slow pace, sparking anger among frustrated survivors. The delay stems in part from the extent of damage caused by the quake and interruptions from strong aftershocks.
“Rescue operations are underway, and in many places where buildings have collapsed there might be people trapped,” said Rameshwor Dangal, head of disaster management at Nepal’s home ministry.
“We are also in the process of getting information from villages, and these will add to the death toll.”
If the toll does reach 10,000 it would be even higher than the 8,500 killed in a massive quake in 1934 – Nepal’s worst disaster to date.
Residents whose homes were flattened or badly damaged by the quake criticised poor organisation by the Nepalese authorities, saying they had been left to fend for themselves for too long, even using their bare hands to search through the rubble for survivors.
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Families in Kathmandu queue on Sunday to cremate their loved ones following the devastating earthquake
OP Singh, the head of India’s National Disaster Response Force, said finding survivors and the bodies of the dead would take time since the heavy equipment needed to clear rubble could not fit through many of Kathmandu’s narrow streets.
“You have to remove all this rubble, so that will take a lot of time … I think it’s going to take weeks,” he told Indian TV.
Anil Giri, who was helping volunteers search for two of his friends thought to be trapped beneath collapsed buildings, said: “The government has not done anything for us. We are clearing the debris ourselves with our bare hands.”
Nepal earthquake destroys Kathmandu valley’s architectural treasures
Officials conceded they were struggling to cope with the sheer scale of the disaster. “The big challenge is relief,” said the Nepalese government’s chief secretary, Leela Mani Paudel.
Despite reports that 90% of Nepal’s 100,000 troops are now involved in the search and rescue effort, Paudel said international help could not arrive quickly enough.
“We urge foreign countries to give us special relief materials and medical teams. We are really desperate for more foreign expertise to pull through this crisis.”
In a rare piece of positive news, mountaineers reported that all 140 climbers who had been stranded at camps high up Mount Everest have been taken to safety.
“Everest, above base camp, is now empty,” Danish climber Carsten Lillelund Pedersen posted on his Facebook page. Eighteen people were killed in avalanches unleashed by the earthquake.
The Mount Everest south base camp. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Mount Everest’s south base camp. Photograph: 6summitschallenge.com/Reuters
The desperate poverty of the survivors is the thread that runs through the tragedy unfolding in Nepal.
Though many had predicted an earthquake in Kathmandu would bring the newly constructed cement apartment blocks tumbling down, it was the older, brick and wood homes that, almost exclusively, were reduced to rubble. Anyone who stayed in these could not afford better.
“Outside Kathmandu it’s the rural poor. But in the city it’s the people in the older precarious housing. It’s obvious: the wealthier you are, the stronger the house you have,” said Bhaskar Gautam, a local sociologist.
The aid situation is expected to improve as more planes packed with supplies arrive from India, China, the US, the UK, Australia, Pakistan and other countries, although that operation too is being held up by congestion at Kathmandu’s airport, and by a shortages of workers to unload cargo and vehicles to ferry supplies to where they are needed.
While the scale of the disaster is not yet fully known, aid workers said the humanitarian impact was likely to be overwhelming.
The United Nations estimates that as many as eight million of Nepal’s 28 million people have had their lives disrupted by the earthquake, adding that it was releasing US$15m from an emergency response fund to help the victims.
The UN said more than 1.4 million people need food assistance, including 750,000 who live near the quake’s epicentre in poor quality housing. Tens of thousands are thought to have been left homeless.
Temporary shelters for victims in Kathmandu. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Temporary shelters in Kathmandu. Photograph: Cihan / Barcroft Media
As smoke from hundreds of funeral pyres filled the air in Kathmandu and the surrounding countryside, some survivors spoke of the near futility of attempting to reach anyone still alive in the rubble.
“We cannot look for missing people with a candle in our hands,” said Amarnath Prasad, 26, who was helping his best friend look for his mother. “She loved me like her son, and I think it is my duty to find her, dead or alive.”
Amid the destruction and chaos, parts of Kathmandu were coming back to life. Hawkers were selling limes and cabbage on pavements. One or two shops were open, even a bank. The city’s notorious traffic was still far from its usual level but was returning to congested normality.
Nepal earthquake: how to donate
Yet thousands are still camping in open spaces, too frightened to return to their homes. Some say they will wait until 72 hours have passed, but continuing aftershocks rekindled their fear.
Many, too, were still seeking treatment for serious injuries, some waiting outside hospitals. The morgue at Bir hospital, the capital’s biggest, was overflowing, with bodies lined up outside.
There was also the fear of disease. “Now there could be communicable illnesses, diarrhoea, flu and so forth. The earthquake will have broken all the sewers and pipes so the water supply will be contaminated,” said Dr Sameer Thapa, as he looked out over a car park and garden covered in tents sheltering patients at the Tribhuvan University teaching hospital.
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 northwest 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.
Although a major plate boundary with a history of large-to-great sized earthquakes, large earthquakes on the Himalayan thrust are rare in the documented historical era. Just four events of M6 or larger have occurred within 250 km of the April 25, 2015 earthquake over the past century. One, a M 6.9 earthquake in August 1988, 240 km to the southeast of the April 25 event, caused close to 1500 fatalities. The largest, an M 8.0 event known as the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, occurred in a similar location to the 1988 event. It severely damaged Kathmandu, and is thought to have caused around 10,600 fatalities.
USGS Aftershock Forecast for the Magnitude 7.8 Nepal earthquake of April 25, 2015
(as of April 27, 2015)
In the coming week, the USGS expects 3-14 M≥5 aftershocks of the magnitude 7.8 Nepal earthquake. Additionally, the USGS estimates that there is a 54% chance of a M≥6 aftershock, and a 7% chance of a M≥7 aftershock during this one-week period. After this, in the following month and then the following year, USGS expects several M≥5 aftershocks, with a significant chance of M≥6 aftershock (greater than 50%). The potential for an aftershock larger than the mainshock remains, but is small (1-2% in each time period).
Felt earthquakes (i.e., those with M≥ 3 or 4) will be common over the next weeks to months. Based on general earthquake statistics, the expected number of M≥ 3 or 4 aftershocks can be estimated by multiplying the expected number of M>=5 aftershocks by 100 or 10, respectively. The expected location of the aftershocks will be in the zone of current activity and at its edges. Currently aftershocks are occurring in a zone extending approximately 200 km away from the mainshock epicenter.
This information is preliminary and subject to change.
Seismotectonics of the Himalaya and Vicinity
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.
The India-Eurasia plate boundary is a diffuse boundary, which in the region near the north of India, lies within the limits of the Indus-Tsangpo (also called the Yarlung-Zangbo) Suture to the north and the Main Frontal Thrust to the south. The Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone is located roughly 200 km north of the Himalaya Front and is defined by an exposed ophiolite chain along its southern margin. The narrow (<200km) Himalaya Front includes numerous east-west trending, parallel structures. This region has the highest rates of seismicity and largest earthquakes in the Himalaya region, caused mainly by movement on thrust faults. Examples of significant earthquakes, in this densely populated region, caused by reverse slip movement include the 1934 M8.0 Bihar, the 1905 M7.5 Kangra and the 2005 M7.6 Kashmir earthquakes. The latter two resulted in the highest death tolls for Himalaya earthquakes seen to date, together killing over 100,000 people and leaving millions homeless. The largest instrumentally recorded Himalaya earthquake occurred on 15th August 1950 in Assam, eastern India. This M8.6 right-lateral, strike-slip, earthquake was widely felt over a broad area of central Asia, causing extensive damage to villages in the epicentral region. The Tibetan Plateau is situated north of the Himalaya, stretching approximately 1000km north-south and 2500km east-west, and is geologically and tectonically complex with several sutures which are hundreds of kilometer-long and generally trend east-west. The Tibetan Plateau is cut by a number of large (>1000km) east-west trending, left-lateral, strike-slip faults, including the long Kunlun, Haiyuan, and the Altyn Tagh. Right-lateral, strike-slip faults (comparable in size to the left-lateral faults), in this region include the Karakorum, Red River, and Sagaing. Secondary north-south trending normal faults also cut the Tibetan Plateau. Thrust faults are found towards the north and south of the Tibetan Plateau. Collectively, these faults accommodate crustal shortening associated with the ongoing collision of the India and Eurasia plates, with thrust faults accommodating north south compression, and normal and strike-slip accommodating east-west extension.
Along the western margin of the Tibetan Plateau, in the vicinity of south-eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, the India plate translates obliquely relative to the Eurasia plate, resulting in a complex fold-and-thrust belt known as the Sulaiman Range. Faulting in this region includes strike-slip, reverse-slip and oblique-slip motion and often results in shallow, destructive earthquakes. The active, left-lateral, strike-slip Chaman fault is the fastest moving fault in the region. In 1505, a segment of the Chaman fault near Kabul, Afghanistan, ruptured causing widespread destruction. In the same region the more recent 30 May 1935, M7.6 Quetta earthquake, which occurred in the Sulaiman Range in Pakistan, killed between 30,000 and 60,000 people.
On the north-western side of the Tibetan Plateau, beneath the Pamir-Hindu Kush Mountains of northern Afghanistan, earthquakes occur at depths as great as 200 km as a result of remnant lithospheric subduction. The curved arc of deep earthquakes found in the Hindu Kush Pamir region indicates the presence of a lithospheric body at depth, thought to be remnants of a subducting slab. Cross-sections through the Hindu Kush region suggest a near vertical northerly-dipping subducting slab, whereas cross-sections through the nearby Pamir region to the east indicate a much shallower dipping, southerly subducting slab. Some models suggest the presence of two subduction zones; with the Indian plate being subducted beneath the Hindu Kush region and the Eurasian plate being subducted beneath the Pamir region. However, other models suggest that just one of the two plates is being subducted and that the slab has become contorted and overturned in places.
Shallow crustal earthquakes also occur in this region near the Main Pamir Thrust and other active Quaternary faults. The Main Pamir Thrust, north of the Pamir Mountains, is an active shortening structure. The northern portion of the Main Pamir Thrust produces many shallow earthquakes, whereas its western and eastern borders display a combination of thrust and strike-slip mechanisms. On the 18 February 1911, the M7.4 Sarez earthquake ruptured in the Central Pamir Mountains, killing numerous people and triggering a landside, which blocked the Murghab River.
Further north, the Tian Shan is a seismically active intra-continental mountain belt, which extends 2500 km in an ENE-WNW orientation north of the Tarim Basin. This belt is defined by numerous east-west trending thrust faults, creating a compressional basin and range landscape. It is generally thought that regional stresses associated with the collision of the India and Eurasia plates are responsible for faulting in the region. The region has had three major earthquakes (>M7.6) at the start of the 20th Century, including the 1902 Atushi earthquake, which killed an estimated 5,000 people. The range is cut through in the west by the 700-km-long, northwest-southeast striking, Talas-Ferghana active right-lateral, strike-slip fault system. Though the system has produced no major earthquakes in the last 250 years, paleo-seismic studies indicate that it has the potential to produce M7.0+ earthquakes and it is thought to represent a significant hazard.
The northern portion of the Tibetan Plateau itself is largely dominated by the motion on three large left-lateral, strike-slip fault systems; the Altyn Tagh, Kunlun and Haiyuan. The Altyn Tagh fault is the longest of these strike slip faults and it is thought to accommodate a significant portion of plate convergence. However, this system has not experienced significant historical earthquakes, though paleoseismic studies show evidence of prehistoric M7.0-8.0 events. Thrust faults link with the Altyn Tagh at its eastern and western termini. The Kunlun Fault, south of the Altyn Tagh, is seismically active, producing large earthquakes such as the 8th November 1997, M7.6 Manyi earthquake and the 14th November 2001, M7.8 Kokoxili earthquake. The Haiyuan Fault, in the far north-east, generated the 16 December 1920, M7.8 earthquake that killed approximately 200,000 people and the 22 May 1927 M7.6 earthquake that killed 40,912.
The Longmen Shan thrust belt, along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, is an important structural feature and forms a transitional zone between the complexly deformed Songpan-Garze Fold Belt and the relatively undeformed Sichuan Basin. On 12 May 2008, the thrust belt produced the reverse slip, M7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, killing over 87,000 people and causing billions of US dollars in damages and landslides which dammed several rivers and lakes.
Southeast of the Tibetan Plateau are the right-lateral, strike-slip Red River and the left-lateral, strike-slip Xiangshuihe-Xiaojiang fault systems. The Red River Fault experienced large scale, left-lateral ductile shear during the Tertiary period before changing to its present day right-lateral slip rate of approximately 5 mm/yr. This fault has produced several earthquakes >M6.0 including the 4 January 1970, M7.5 earthquake in Tonghai which killed over 10,000 people. Since the start of the 20th century, the Xiangshuihe-Xiaojiang Fault system has generated several M7.0+ earthquakes including the M7.5 Luhuo earthquake which ruptured on the 22 April 1973. Some studies suggest that due to the high slip rate on this fault, future large earthquakes are highly possible along the 65km stretch between Daofu and Qianning and the 135km stretch that runs through Kangding.
Shallow earthquakes within the Indo-Burmese Arc, predominantly occur on a combination of strike-slip and reverse faults, including the Sagaing, Kabaw and Dauki faults. Between 1930 and 1956, six M7.0+ earthquakes occurred near the right-lateral Sagaing Fault, resulting in severe damage in Myanmar including the generation of landslides, liquefaction and the loss of 610 lives. Deep earthquakes (200km) have also been known to occur in this region, these are thought to be due to the subduction of the eastwards dipping, India plate, though whether subduction is currently active is debated. Within the pre-instrumental period, the large Shillong earthquake occurred on the 12 June 1897, causing widespread destruction.