A major earthquake has hit Nepal near the Chinese border between the capital of Kathmandu and Mount Everest, less than three weeks after the country was devastated by a quake. Dozens are dead and over a thousand are injured.
The magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit 82 km east of Kathmandu, reported the US Geological Survey.
New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said its High Commission in New Delhi was liaising with local authorities to ascertain the extent of damage caused by the latest earthquake in Nepal.
A spokeswoman said there were 48 New Zealanders currently registered on the ministry's Safe Travel website as being in Nepal.
"We continue to advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel to Nepal."
Several buildings collapsed in the isolated town of Chautara, with at least four people killed, according to Paul Dillon, a spokesman with the International Organization for Migration.
A rescue team from the agency has begun searching through the wreckage of the little town, he said.
Chautara has become a hub for humanitarian aid in the wake of a major April 25 quake that killed more than 8,150 people and injured more than 17,860 as it flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings.
Tuesday's quake was deeper, however, coming from a depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles) versus the April 25th quake that hit 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).
More shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage at the surface.It was followed closely by at least five aftershocks measuring from magnitude 5.6 to magnitude 6.3.
The international airport in Kathmandu, which has become a transport hub for international aid, was closed temporarily, while traffic snarled in the streets of Kathmandu.
"The shaking seemed to go on and on," said Rose Foley, a UNICEF official based in Kathmandu.
"It felt like being on a boat in rough seas."
Aid agencies were still struggling Tuesday afternoon to get reports from outside of the capital.
"We're thinking about children across the country, and who are already suffering. This could make them even more vulnerable," Ms Foley said.
In the capital of Kathmandu, the quake sent people rushing outside of their homes.
The tremors in Kathmandu lasted close to a minute according to an AFP correspondent in the city, with the ground swaying. Sirens could be heard soon afterwards and people were seen running screaming onto the streets of Kathmandu and nearby cities, while telephone connections were down.
"Looks like Nepal will be destroyed completely this time," one resident shouted, while others were putting up tents in open spaces that they had only recently taken down.
At the Norvic Hospital in Kathmandu, patients and doctors rushed to the parking lot.
"I thought I was going to die this time," said Sulav Singh, who rushed with his daughter into the street in the suburban neighborhood of Thapathali.
"Things were just getting back to normal, and we get this one."
Police gave no immediate estimates of damage.
Indian Embassy spokesman Abhay Kumar said some buildings in Kathmandu collapsed, but he gave no further details about how many or where they were.
Experts say the April 25 quake caused extensive structural damage even in buildings that did not topple, and that many could be in danger of future collapse.
Rasmus Baastrup, a Dane from Doctors Without Borders, said in a live interview with Denmark's TV2 channel "I walked out quickly. I couldn't run because the earth was shaking so much that it was impossible to run."
Baastrup, speaking from Kathmandu, said he had been told that all staff with Doctors Without Borders were alive but was not more specific.
Norway's Red Cross, which was helping people from the April 25 earthquake at a 60-bed hospital in Chautara, said on Twitter in Norwegian that there were "many injured, several killed" and added that their hospital tents already has patients.
"People are terribly scared. Everyone ran out in the streets because they are afraid of being inside the houses," Norwegian Red Cross Secretary-General Asne Havnelid told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Kiwi aid groups in Nepal
New Zealand Red Cross spokeswoman Hanna Butler said the organisation has five Kiwi aid workers currently on the ground in Nepal.
She had made contact with them via satellite phone tonight and said all five were accounted for and safe. Four of the New Zealanders were in Kathmandu, while the other - a nurse - is in the village of Kalikasthan.
Ms Butler said the group, who were still "shaken up", heard a lot of screaming and had climbed under desks as the building they were in shook.
"It went on for a long time, like about a minute.
"One of our aid workers there was in Christchurch for the February earthquake and said it reminded him of that - much like the Christchurch earthquake, he said, but longer."
A spokesman for UNICEF New Zealand said he had been in contact with the organisation's team of about 90 aid workers over there, who were safe.
He said he had been told it was a "really, really intense earthquake" and that people were now waiting out in the open wondering what to do.
Today's shake was followed closely by two aftershocks - measuring magnitude 5.6 and 6.3 - within 30 minutes.
Aid agencies were still struggling this afternoon to get reports from outside of the capital.
Nepalese have been terrified by dozens of aftershocks that hit the country in the days following the April 25 quake.
Meanwhile, the impoverished country has appealed for billions of dollars in aid from foreign nations, as well as medical experts to treat the wounded and helicopters to ferry food and temporary shelters to hundreds of thousands left homeless amid unseasonal rains and unreachable with landslides blocking many mountain roads.
"This was a jolt just like the big one last month, though it was not that long," said Kathmandu resident Avinav Shrestha.
"I was very scared, though. Anything can happen."
Strong shaking was also felt across northern India. In the Indian capital of New Delhi, people scrambled outdoors while buildings swayed.
Across the Nepalese border in Tibet's Jilong and Zhangmu regions, the Earth shook strongly. Tremors were also felt slightly in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.
"Rocks fell from the mountains," Jilong county government vice chief Wang Wenxiang was quoted as saying by China News Service. "There might be some houses collapsed or damaged. We are now checking on the condition of the people."
Kiwi with family in Nepal: Quake not as devastating as April 25
A major earthquake has hit Nepal tonight less than three weeks after a devastating quake left thousands dead and buildings ruined.
A New Zealander with family in Nepal said it seemed today's quake was not as devastating as the one 17 days ago.
But New Zealand Nepal Society president Uddhav Adhikary said it was unclear how severely the 7.3-magnitude quake affected areas outside Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.
Mr Adhikary said tonight he'd heard from people in Nepal and understood today's quake had severely damaged more buildings but was not thought to be as destructive as that of April 25.
Mr Adhikary said his daughter-in-law Sujata, granddaughter Aarna, 3, and grandson Aarbha, 6 months, had returned to New Zealand after surviving the April quake.
"They were not feeling well there," Mr Adhikary said.
He said some buildings in Nepal that were moderately damaged in the first big quake had "collapsed" during aftershocks in recent weeks.
A CNN correspondent told the network she and her colleagues could feel the quake for at least 30 seconds in New Delhi, more than 1000km west of the epicentre.
She said there were reports of "chaos" in the streets and buildings that previously had cracks had now collapsed.
The New Zealand Government has already pledged aid to Nepal after the April 25.
Mr Adhikary said the New Zealand Nepal Society gave $40,000 to the Red Cross after New Zealanders donated to the society.
Reuben Harcourt, the 23-year-old from Wellington who is in Nepal coordinating a private relief effort, has posted on his Facebook page to say he is safe after the quake.
"Power out again, no one here in the home injured. Back to square one."
Harcourt was volunteering at an orphanage in the central Nepalese village of Badikhel when the April 25 earthquake hit and has since stayed on to help with the relief effort.
Through fundraising campaigns on Facebook and Givealittle, Harcourt has so far helped raise over $29,000.
• World Vision: Nepal Earthquake Appeal visit worldvision.org.nz or 0800 90 5000
• Unicef: Visit unicef.org.nz/nepal or call 0800 243 575
• Oxfam: Visit oxfam.org.nz or call 0800 600 700
• Red Cross: Visit redcross.org.nz or call 0800 RED CROSS (0800 733 276)
• ChildFund New Zealand: Visit childfund.org.nz/Nepal-Earthquake-Appeal or call 0800 808 822
• Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand: Visit caritas.org.nz or call 0900 4 11 11
• New Zealand Nepal Society: Donations can be made to bank account number 01-0142-0053378-00
• Himalayan Trust Rebuild Appeal: Visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/nepalearthquake
• TEAR Fund: Visit tearfund.org.nz or call 0800 800 777
• Save the Children: Visit savethechildren.co.nz or call 0800 167 168
• International Nepal Fellowship: Visit inf.org/earthquake-appeal-new-zealand
• Habitat for Humanity New Zealand: Visit www.habitat.org.nz/donate
• The Leprosy Mission New Zealand: Visit leprosymission.org.nz/nepal or 0800 862 873
• MEND: Visit mend.org.nz
- AP / nzherald.co.nz