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April 2015





On May 12, 2015 a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck 18km SE of Kodari, Nepal and a M 6.3 earthquake struck 33km NNE of Ramechhap. Earlier, on April 25th a M 7.8 earthquake struck 34km ESE of Lamjung. The capital, Kathmandu, is southeast of these three events.

Over the past century, there have been only four events of magnitude 6 or greater in the area. In August 1988, a M6.9 earthquake struck 240km southeast of the current site (a loss of nearly 1500 lives). The largest known earthquake in Nepal occurred in 1934, when a M8 event occurred near the 1988 earthquake (over 10,000 lives lost).

Nepal lies between China and India in the rugged Himalayas; the highest point in the country is Mount Everest (8850m above sea level). The climate of Nepal varies from cool summers an severe winters in the north, to subtropical summers and mild winters in the south. The natural hazards facing Nepal include: severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, and duration of the summer monsoons.

In 1951, the Nepali monarch ended the century-old system of rule by hereditary premiers and instituted a cabinet system that brought political parties into the government. That arrangement lasted until 1960, when political parties were again banned, but was reinstated in 1990 with the establishment of a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. An insurgency led by Maoists broke out in 1996.

There has been both civil war and dissolution of governments throughout the years. A peace accord was reached in 2007. Following a nationwide Constituent Assembly (CA) election in 2008, the newly formed CA declared Nepal a federal democratic republic, abolished the monarchy, and elected the country's first president. Between 2008 and 2011 there were four different coalition governments, led twice by the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, which received a plurality of votes in the 2008 CA election, and twice by the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist (UML).

After the CA failed to draft a constitution by the May 2012 deadline set by the Supreme Court, then-Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai dissolved the CA. Months of negotiations ensued until March 2013 when the major political parties agreed to create an interim government headed by then-Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi with a mandate to hold elections for a new CA. Elections were held in November 2013, in which and the Nepali Congress won the largest share of the seats in the CA and in February 2014 formed a coalition government with the second place UML and with Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala as prime minister. The new government failed to meet its January 2015 deadline for a new constitution primarily due to continuing disagreement over federal restructuring.

If you would like to learn more about earthquakes, please visit the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program.

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program;CIA World Factbook, 4/2015; 4/2015

These maps have also been used: