- A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal today causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu
- At least 71 are feared dead after homes, businesses and landmarks collapsed with a hunt now on for survivors
- Panicked residents rushed into the streets as the tremor erupted with the impact felt as far as India and Bangladesh
- Also said to have triggered a massive avalanche on Mount Everest sparking fears for the lives of its many climbers
More than 70 people have been killed and more than a hundred were injured after a powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal causing massive damage in the capital.
Homes, businesses and landmarks were destroyed when the severe earthquake struck Kathmandu and the densely-populated surrounding areas at noon local time, officials said.
The country's home ministry confirmed that at least 71 people have been killed and rescue teams are searching for survivors who are feared to be trapped under the rubble. One Chinese citizen who was on the border, two people in Bangladesh and six in Tibet also died in the quake.
Panicked residents rushed into the streets as the tremor erupted with the impact felt hundreds of miles away in big swathes of northern India and even in Bangladesh.
Nepalese rescue teams remove a body from the rubble of the historic 19th century Darahara Tower in Kathmandu which collapsed in the quake
A group of men carry an injured person through the street after a powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu
Dozens of people were gathered in the car park of Kathmandu's Norvic International Hospital, where thin mattresses had been spread on the ground for patients rushed outside, some patients wearing hospital pyjamas, while doctors and nurses were treating people.
The earthquake is also said to have triggered a massive avalanche on Mount Everest sparking fears for the lives of the many climbers who attempt the world's highest peak - with April the most popular month to attempt the summit.
At least 30 were injured and Base Camp was 'severely damaged' leaving groups of climbers trapped.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu at 06.11 GMT, with walls crumbling and families racing outside of their homes.
Television footage showed a huge swathe of houses had collapsed in while roads had been split in two by the force of the impact.
A terrified Kathmandu resident said: 'Everything started shaking. Everything fell down. The walls around the main road have collapsed. The national stadiums gates have collapsed,' Kathmandu resident Anupa Shrestha said.
Pushpa Das, a labourer, ran from the house when the first quake struck but could not escape a collapsing wall that injured his arm.
'It was very scary. The earth was moving ... I am waiting for treatment but the (hospital) staff is overwhelmed,' he said.
People search for survivors stuck under the rubble of a destroyed building, after the earthquake caused serious damage in the capital
Before and after: The Dharahara Tower, one of Kathmandu's landmarks built by Nepal's royal rulers in the 1800s was reduced to rubble with reports of people trapped underneath
'The walls of houses have collapsed around me onto the road. All the families are outside in their yards huddled together. The tremors are still going on,' an AFP reporter added.
Government emergency workers are reportedly already on the scene in the most damaged areas while Save the Children teams on the ground are coordinating an emergency response.
Several buildings collapsed in the centre of the capital, the ancient Old Kathmandu, including centuries-old temples and towers, said resident Prachanda Sual.
Among them was the Dharahara Tower, one of the city's landmarks built by Nepal's royal rulers in the 1800s and a Unesco-recognised historical monument.
There were reports of that a body was removed from the tower and a second lay further up the road after it was reduced to rubble. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the multi-storey tower when it collapsed.
'Our focus is on rescue in the core areas of Kathmandu where the population is concentrated,' Dinesh Acharya, metropolitan police spokesman, said.
'Many houses and buildings have collapsed. We don't know if there have been fatalities yet.'
Old Kathmandu city is a warren of tightly-packed, narrow lanes with poorly-constructed homes piled on top of each other which were vulnerable to collapse.
A state broadcaster for China that said one Chinese tourist had also died at the Nepal-China border.
People search for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed building after the earthquake hit Nepal and surrounding countries at just after 6am GBT time
People carry a woman from the rubble of a destroyed building while locals and rescue teams continue to search for more survivors of the earthquake
The powerful earthquake also created an avalanche which swept the face of Mt. Everest injuring at least 30 people, according to a senior mountaineering guide.
It struck between the Khumbu Icefall, a rugged area of collapsed ice and snow, and the base camp where most climbing expeditions are, said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
The disaster has sparked fears for climbers on the world's highest peak a year after another avalanche caused the deadliest incident on the mountain.
Romanian climber Alex Gavan said on Twitter that there had been a 'huge avalanche' and 'many, many' people were up on the mountain.
'Running for life from my tent,' Gavan said. 'Everest base camp huge earthquake then huge avalanche.'
Another climber, Daniel Mazur, said Everest base camp had been 'severely damaged' and his team was trapped.
'Please pray for everyone,' he said on his Twitter page.
An avalanche in April 2014 just above the base camp on Mount Everest killed 16 Nepali guides. April is one of the most popular times to climb Everest before rain and clouds cloak the mountain at the end of next month.
Some 230,000 people - nearly half of Nepal's yearly foreign visitors - come to trek the Himalayas, with 810 attempting to scale Mt. Everest in 2013.
Initially measured at 7.5 magnitude, the quake was later adjusted to 7.9, with a depth of 15 kilometres, the USGS said. It hit 68 kilometres east of the tourist town of Pokhara. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes.
National radio warned people to stay outdoors and maintain calm because more aftershocks were feared.
A 6.6-magnitude aftershock hit about an hour after the initial quake. But smaller aftershocks continued to arrive every few minutes and residents reported of the ground feeling unstable.
People gathered outside Kathmandu's Norvic International Hospital where doctors and nurses had hooked up some patients to IV drops in the car park or were giving people oxygen.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu at 06.11 GMT, with walls crumbling and families racing outside of their homes
A man comforts a woman next to a seriously injured person on the ground in the aftermath of the disaster which is thought to have killed at least two
The earthquakew had an epicentre 80 kilometres north-west of Kathmandu,according to United States Geological Survey and strong tremors were also felt in large areas of northern and eastern India and Bangladesh
A Swedish woman, Jenny Adhikari, who lives in Nepal, told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that she was riding a bus in the town of Melamchi when the earth began to move.
'A huge stone crashed only about 20 metres from the bus,' she was quoted as saying.
'All the houses around me have tumbled down. I think there are lot of people who have died,' she told the newspaper by telephone. Melamchi is about 30 miles north-east of Kathmandu.
The earthquake also shook several cities across northern India and was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan and Lhasa in Tibet, 340 miles east of Kathmandu and India's capital of New Delhi. The Indian cities of Lucknow in the north and Patna in the east also reported strong tremors.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting of top government officials to review the damage and disaster preparedness in parts of India that felt strong tremors.
'We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home and in Nepal,' he said in a tweet.
The Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Sikkim, which share a border with Nepal, have reported building damage. There have also been reports of damage in the north-eastern state of Assam.
A man carries a dog and as he walks past the rubble of a building which was destroyed by the disaster which hit at midday in the densely populated Kathmandu Valley
Mothers hold their children close as they sit and wait outside a school after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake which struck 80 km (50 miles) east of Pokhara in Nepal, about half-way between the town and the capital Kathmandu
Panicked locals gathered outside in the street after the earthqauke which is thought to have killed two and caused extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings
The earthquake was also felt across large areas of Bangladesh, triggering panic in the capital Dhaka as people rushed out onto the streets.
In the garment manufacturing hub of Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, at least 50 workers were injured after the quake set off stampede in a garment factory, according to private Jamuna television.
Laxman Singh Rathore, director-general of the Indian Meteorological Department said: 'The intensity was felt in entire north India. More intense shocks were felt in eastern UP (Uttar Pradesh) and Bihar, equally strong in sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim,' he said.
Rathore that a second tremor of a 6.6 magnitude had been recorded around 20 minutes later and centred around the same region.
'Since it is a big earthquake, there are aftershocks and people should stay cautious,' he said.
'The damage potential of any earthquake above seven magnitude is high. The duration of the earthquake tremors was different at different places. It was around 50-55 seconds long in Delhi.'
A 6.9-magnitude quake hit northeastern India in 2011, rocking neighbouring Nepal and killing 110 people.
Nepal suffered its worst recorded earthquake in 1934, which measured eight and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.