Engineers inspect quake-damaged homes in Nepal’s capital

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KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) – More than a thousand engineers were checking damaged houses in Nepal’s capital Wednesday and advising people about whether they are safe.

About 13,000 families have requested inspections of their homes since the massive magnitude-7.8 earthquake near Kathmandu on April 25, Nepal Engineers Association General Secretary Kishore Kumar Jha said.

The association, which has 2,000 civil and structural engineers, has set up phone lines for people to request inspections.

“We have been receiving calls constantly. We are trying to reach as many people as possible,” Jha said.

About 40 percent of the damaged houses inspected so far were considered safe, he said.

It is still unclear how many houses were damaged in the capital and how many are repairable.

Some modern buildings – including upscale hotels and expensive homes – appear to have escaped largely unscathed. But there is widespread damage in poorer neighborhoods.

Much of Kathmandu’s so-called old city area, home to many of its precious world heritage buildings, was destroyed. Many villages outside the capital also were completely flattened.

As aftershocks continue to shake the capital, many people remain scared to return to their homes.

Police say about one-third of Kathmandu’s population has left the city since the earthquake. Many others have moved in with relatives, while some are staying in tents in open areas.

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