Earthquake in western Nepal, felt as far as New Delhi

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Kathmandu, Nepal — An earthquake in the mountains of western Nepal shook the Himalayan nation early Wednesday, killing at least six people as they slept in their homes, a government leader said.

The earthquake was felt as far away as the Indian capital New Delhi, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of the epicenter.

Kalpana Shrestha, the chief officer of the Doti district, said six people were killed when they were crushed in their homes in a remote, sparsely populated mountain village. Five more were injured.

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The earthquake at around 2:12 a.m. local time caused people in the mountain villages to panic from their homes and many spent the night out in the open, Shrestha said.

She said security forces have been sent to the remote villages to assist in the rescue operation. There were reports of damaged houses in many villages, but no new reports of casualties.

Videos posted to social media showed villagers moving rubble by hand to find the victims buried by the earthquake-damaged homes, and shining cell phone lights to move the piles of wood and rocks most mountain villages needed to build houses.

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Most mountain villages are accessible on foot and there are no roads to drive heavy equipment to assist in the rescue.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said in a statement that he has ordered government officials to help the victims and their families immediately and provide all necessary medical assistance to the injured.

Nepal’s National Earthquake Monitoring and Research Center gave a preliminary magnitude of 6.6. The US Geological Survey provided preliminary measurements of a magnitude 5.6 with a depth of 15.7 kilometers (9.8 miles) and the epicenter 21 km (13 miles) east of Dipayal.

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Earthquakes are common in mountainous Nepal, where the highest mountain is located. An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale in 2015 killed about 9,000 people and damaged about 1 million buildings.