A new earthquake killed dozens of people yesterday and spread more fear and misery in Nepal, which is still struggling to recover from a devastating quake nearly three weeks ago that left more than 8,000 dead.
A US Marine Corps helicopter conducting disaster relief operations in northeastern Nepal was reported missing, but officials in Washington declined to say how many people were aboard.
Yesterday's magnitude-7.3 quake, centred midway between Kathmandu and Mount Everest, struck hardest in the foothills of the Himalayas, triggering some landslides, but it also shook the capital badly, sending thousands of terrified people into the streets.
Nepal's parliament was in session when the quake hit, and frightened lawmakers ran for the exits as the building shook.
At least 37 people were killed and more than 1,100 were injured. But that toll was expected to rise as reports began reaching Kathmandu of people in isolated Himalayan towns and villages being buried under rubble.
Tremors radiated across parts of Asia. In neighbouring India, at least 16 people were confirmed dead after rooftops or walls collapsed on them. Chinese media reported one death in Tibet.
The magnitude-7.8 quake that hit on April 25 killed more than 8,150 and flattened entire villages, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Yesterday's quake was deeper, however, coming from a depth of 18.5km versus the earlier one at 15km. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.
At least three people were rescued yesterday in Kathmandu, while nine pulled to safety in the district of Dolkha.
Rescue helicopters were sent to mountain districts where landslides and collapsed buildings may have buried people.
Impoverished Nepal 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.
In Washington, Capt Chris Sims of the navy said the missing Huey helicopter was part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 and was on a disaster aid mission.
Last month's quake caused extensive structural damage even in buildings that did not topple, and many could be in danger of collapse.
Frightened residents in the capital, who had returned to their homes a few days ago, again set up tents last night with plans to sleep in empty fields, car parks and on pavements.
"We are all terrified. I would rather deal with mosquitoes and the rain than sleep in the house," said 40-year-old street vendor Ram Hari Sah as he searched for a spot to pitch an orange tarpaulin to shelter his family.