Kathmandu: At least five people were killed, three of them in Kathmandu alone where the British embassy was among the many buildings that collapsed, and dozens of others were injured as a major earthquake hit Nepal on Sunday, triggering panic and chaos nationwide.
Measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, the quake hit Nepal at 6.25 pm, lasting for around two minutes and causing disruption of power supply and telephone lines.
The British embassy building here, located in the Lainchaur area, close to the Indian embassy, collapsed after the quake, smashing a car and killing all three in it.
Two more people were said to have been killed in the congested Kalanki area of the capital city but there was no immediate official confirmation.
There was no immediate official confirmation of a large number of deaths in the tea garden district of Jhapa in eastern Nepal, contrary to reports in the Indian media.
Army personnel and armed police battled to remove the debris of the British embassy and rescue the people trapped under it. Three of the injured died in the Manmohan Memorial Hospital during treatment while at least two more were receiving treatment.
The dead were identified as Sajan Shrestha of Gorkha district, his daughter Ashima and a third man in the car, Bir Bahadur Majhi.
Four others were said to be badly injured and were under treatment at the hospital.
There were angry outbursts from locals and passersby who blamed the embassy authorities for the mishap.
In Sunsari in eastern Nepal, two men were killed, police said. They were identified as Santosh Pariyar and his nephew Bimal Pariyar.
In Sankhuwasabha in eastern Nepal, at least 16 buildings were affected, including a police camp, a bank and a school.
Nepal`s Parliament was in session when the quake struck, causing alarmed lawmakers to scream and run out for safety, causing Chairman Subash Nembang to adjourn the house for some time.
The epicentre of the quake in Nepal was Taplejung and Sankhuwasabha, initial reports said.
Hundreds of people rushed out of houses on to the streets in the cramped capital with little open space, crying and taking the names of gods as the tremors started.
It was the biggest tremor to hit the quake-prone nation after 1990 when thousands of people were killed in Nepal and Bihar in India.
The chaos was compounded by heavy rains and a blackout. Telephone lines were hit and the dark roads were filled with the blare of ambulances.
There have been a series of warnings by international organisations that Nepal would be hit harder than Haiti - struck by a 7-point Richter scale temblor in 2010 - if another killer quake struck, because of the hill nation`s lack of readiness to cope with disaster.
The capital especially is chock-a-block with old decrepit buildings which are endangered and liable to collapse, adding to the crisis.
The disaster comes ahead of the former Hindu kingdom gearing up to celebrate its biggest festivals Dashain and Tihar starting next month.