Will More Aftershocks Ripple Through Nepal?

A deadly earthquake — the biggest in the region since 1934 — struck Nepal on Saturday morning, killing more than 1,000 people in and around the capital of Kathmandu. Not much later, tons of aftershocks tore through the area, making a terrible situation even worse. Officials expect aftershocks will continue in Nepal throughout the night. Ariani Soejeti, communications officer for the International Organization for Migration, told The Los Angeles Times that the aftershocks will be severe, and people have been told to stay outdoors. Sakila Gurng, a resident who's currently camping at a schoolground in the area, told the newspaper:

We don't want to go home now, with so many aftershocks throughout the day, and even just now it is too risky to stay indoors. I hope it doesn't rain.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), this Himalayan area is "one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth," due to the way the India and Eurasia plates collide. The below image from the USGS shows the aftershocks that have occurred in the area in the past day — around 28 so far. The blue dot is the major earthquake, and the other dots are the aftershocks. The red line depicts the plate boundary, where the Earth's crust and upper mantle slip on faults, creating earthquakes.

Aftershocks are earthquakes that happen after the largest shock of an earthquake sequence, according to the USGS. Although they're smaller, they can still be just as deadly, as buildings whose foundation was shook by the initial earthquake could be further destroyed. The USGS reports that aftershocks can continue for weeks, months, even years. It depends on how severe the initial shock was, and a 7.8-magnitude quake like this one could see large and numerous aftershocks for a significant period of time.

As residents prepare for more aftershocks and refuse to go back home, choosing instead to spend the night outdoors, the area is still reeling from what's already happened. According to CNN, aid agencies are worried about survivors staying on the streets, as temperatures are expected to drop, and many are without electricity, water, and shelter. It's been a difficult and chaotic day, and the night currently offers no relief. Shiwani Neupane, a journalist who is currently in Kathmandu, told CNN:

There is no power and families are listening to the FM radio inside their cars. News of multiple building collapses. I've seen many cracked walls and roads and buildings. ... There are police everywhere trying to move rubble to make space on the roads for ambulances. Everyone is very scared.

Image: USGS (1)