The Los Angeles County Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team left its Pacoima base this afternoon for March Air Force Base and overnight deployment to earthquake-stricken Nepal. The team is due to arrive in Kathmandu on Monday. The team's 57 members, designated as California Task Force 2 when they are activated to assist the United States Agency for International Development, have responded in the past to big earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand and Japan, as well as to areas hit by the South Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Per LA County Fire Capt. Roland Sprewell, California Task Force 2 is one of only two such medium urban rescue teams available for foreign disaster missions. The assistance comes at the request for international help from the government of Nepal.
You may remember, it was the county fire urban search and rescue team that figured in a dramatic 2010 scene in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Suddenly, help arrives. Firefighters from Los Angeles.'
On Monday in Nepal, the authorities raised the known death toll to 3,218, with the full extent of deaths, injuries and devastation not yet known. Major aftershocks continue to shake Kathmandu, the capital city. At least 18 climbers died in avalanches on Mt. Everest, including Google executive Dan Fredinburg. A Santa Monica couple that was believed to be in Kathmandu is missing. China and India, where deaths also occurred, are said to be sending international relief teams. Israel and several european nations are also responding. New York Times, BBC
Google has activated its Person Finder page for the Nepal quake.
The USGS calls the April 25 earthquake a 7.8 magnitude event, in an area known to have big quakes, where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Pasadena-based USGS scientists Ken Hudnut and Lucy Jones have been on Twitter providing information and answering questions since the quake.
From the Earth Observatory of Singapore website:
The last large earthquake in Nepal occurred in 1934 and killed 16,000 people…. The April 25, 2015 earthquake occurred about 200 km west of the 1934 earthquake. It ruptured a segment of the fault that likely slipped in 1344 AD (Bollinger et al., 2015 submitted to Nature Communications). This is similar to the time interval between the last two earthquakes on the fault system to the east, which ruptured in both 1934 and 1255. We expect that this 2015 earthquake produced surface ruptures in the frontal Himalaya, as the 1934 earthquake did.
The distribution of aftershocks, which extend up to 130 km to the east of the epicenter, suggests that the rupture may have propagated from west to east, potentially leading to more severe destruction in Kathmandu.