19th-cen­tury Kathmandu tower col­lapses, scores feared trapped

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

An his­toric 19th- cen­tury tower col­lapsed in the heart of Kathmandu’s old quar­ter af­ter an earth­quake on Satur­day, with at least a dozen bod­ies seen pulled from the rub­ble and fears of scores still trapped.

The nine- storey Dharhara tower is a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion in Dur­bar Square at the heart of Kathmandu’s his­toric old city where kings were once crowned, with its eighth-floor bal­cony pro­vid­ing panoramic views of the Kathmandu val­ley.

The tower — which was white, topped with a bronze minaret and con­tained a spi­ral stair­case of over 200 steps — was re­duced to just its base when the 7.8-mag­ni­tude quake struck at lunchtime.

Res­cue work­ers were seen drag­ging bod­ies from the rub­ble and TV footage showed chaotic scenes at the site, as peo­ple des­per­ately tried to dig through piles of bricks and dust with their bare hands.

Kathmandu po­lice spokesman Di­nesh Acharya said res­cuers were fran­ti­cally try­ing to “bring ev­ery­one out to safety.”

“Our team is still de­ployed in Dharara to res­cue peo­ple. How­ever, we do not know how many are still trapped,” he told AFP.

Peo­ple took to so­cial me­dia to ex­press their dis­may at the his­toric site’s col­lapse.

“Dev­as­tat­ing to see Dharhara (Bhim­sen Tower) col­lapsed,” user Pra­bir Bhatt said on Twit­ter.

“The his­toric # Dharhara tower in #Nepal de­stroyed by the #Earth­quake. Prayers!” wrote Rahul Sharma.

Satur­day was not the first time the 50.5-me­tre-high tower — built by Nepal’s then prime min­is­ter for the queen in 1832 — has been hit by an earth­quake.

Much of Dur­bar Square, a UNESCO World Her­itage site and the so­cial and cul­tural heart of the city, had to be re­built af­ter a huge quake in 1934.

The tower col­lapsed in that quake and was re­built two sto­ries lower than the orig­i­nal.

AP

Vol­un­teers work to re­move de­bris at the his­toric Dhara­hara tower, a city land­mark, af­ter an earth­quake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Satur­day, April 25.

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