KATHMANDU, Nepal — A powerful earthquake shook Nepal’s northwest districts shortly before midnight Friday, and authorities said at least 69 people were dead and dozens more injured as rescuers searched villages in mountain.
Authorities said Saturday morning that the toll was expected to rise, noting that communications were cut with many locations.
The earthquake, which struck while many people were already asleep at home, was felt in the Indian capital, New Delhi, more than 800 kilometers away.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.6 and occurred at a depth of 11 miles. Nepal’s National Earthquake Research and Monitoring Center said its epicenter was in Jajarkot, about 400 kilometers northeast of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
The earthquake killed at least 35 people in Rukum district, where many houses collapsed, police official Narvaraj Bhattarai said by telephone. Thirty injured people have already been taken to a local hospital, Bhattarai said.
In neighboring Jajarkot district, 34 people were confirmed dead, government administration official Harish Chandra Sharma said.
He said security officials were working with villagers in the dark to extract the dead and injured from collapsed houses. But he added that it was difficult to reach some places because some paths were blocked by landslides triggered by the tremor and its aftershocks.
Earthquakes are common in the mountainous regions of Nepal. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015 killed some 9,000 people and damaged about a million structures.