Kathmandu: A major earthquake on Tuesday jolted Nepal, striking fear among the people and causing panic in a country which was barely recovering from the devastating April 25 temblor.
Cracked buildings collapsed in a heap of debris and landslides cut off roads as an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale hit Nepal, with its epicentre not far from Mount Everest -- the world's highest peak at 8,848 m.
Terrified people ran out of homes and offices as the buildings began to shake violently due to the earthquake. They ran to open space and parks here.
"It was frightening," said an eyewitness who clutched her daughter. "It felt worse than last time," she added
Media said seven people were killed in Chautara Town, east of Kathmandu, where buildings also collapsed. The toll is likely to rise as several people have been injured in the quake.
Six strong aftershocks followed in quick succession. Four of the aftershocks were in the epicentre Kodari while the strongest aftershock measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has directed authorities to be on alert for rescue and relief operations.
A tweet from the prime minister's office said: "PM took stock of the situation following the fresh major earthquake felt in Nepal and parts of India, at a high-level meeting."
India Meteorological Department chief L.S. Rathore said that aftershocks could well continue for a few more weeks and months.
The tremors were felt in India, particularly in capital Delhi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Amritsar, Kolkata and the northeastern city of Guwahati. Buildings also shook in faraway Kochi in Kerala.
In Delhi, people ran out as buildings began to shake. Metro services were brought to a halt.
Rohtash Sharma said in Delhi: "I was at a bank when I felt the earthquake. I immediately ran out along with others."
"Oh...this time I felt that it lasted longer than the one that we had in April. We all rushed out of our houses," said Rakesh Sharma, who lives on the fifth floor in a high-rise building in C-Scheme area of Jaipur in India's Rajasthan state.
In Kathmandu, an eyewitness said that he saw a building fall.
Another witness told IANS that he saw debris falling on a taxi packed with people. The fate of the people in the taxi was not immediately known.
Onlookers were left dazed and distraught on seeing the buildings collapse with a roar, a replay of the April 25 quake horror.
There was no electricity in Kathmandu. Internet connectivity too snapped.
People desperate for news tried to get in touch through their mobile phones, but that too did not work. The mobile network was jammed.
In Kathmandu, people made a beeline for shops to stock on water and other essential commodities here.
Harried shopkeepers were seen trying to manage the surging crowds at their shops.
People feared a repeat of the April 25 earthquake which caused widespread devastation.
"It is really scary," said a Kathmandu resident as he rushed to join the people at the local grocery shop.
Nepal's National Assembly was in session when the earth began to shake, creating panic among the lawmakers. They quickly trooped out of the building, which was soon plunged into darkness.
Kathmandu airport was closed temporarily as the ATC staff hurried out of the tower.