Hundreds of people are known to have died in a powerful earthquake that struck Nepal, with many more feared trapped under rubble, officials say.
The quake measured 7.8 and struck an area between the capital Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara, the US Geological Survey said.
Tremors were felt across the region, as far afield as Pakistan, Bangladesh and neighbouring India.
A Nepali minister said there had been “massive damage” at the epicentre.
“We need support from the various international agencies which are more knowledgeable and equipped to handle the kind of emergency we face now,” said Information Minister Minendra Rijal.
A national police spokesman told the BBC that 565 people had been killed across the country.
Rescuers are digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kathmandu trying to reach survivors.
A number of historic buildings have been destroyed.
Among those wrecked was the landmark Dharahara tower, with many feared trapped in its ruins.
After the earthquake struck, frightened residents came out into the streets. Mobile phones and other communications have been disrupted.
There are also reports of damage to the airport in the capital. Injured people have been brought to the main hospital.
World’s strongest earthquakes
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook large areas of Nepal is among the strongest on record.
- Chile, 1960, a 9.5 magnitude quake triggers a tsunami. At least 1,700 people are killed
- Alaska, 1964, 131 people are killed in a 9.2 earthquake
- Indonesia, 2004, the devastating 9.1 earthquake and ensuing tsunami kills more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries
- Japan, 2011, a 9.0 quake triggers a tsunami, killing more than 18,000 people
- Russia, 1952, another 9.0 earthquake caused damage but no reported casualties
“It was very scary. The earth was moving… I am waiting for treatment but the [hospital] staff are overwhelmed,” a labourer who injured his arm in a collapsing wall told AP.
With little known about the extent of the damage around the earthquake’s epicentre, there are fears the death toll could rise.
Aftershocks continued to ripple through the region hours after.
The quake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest. “Running for life from my tent. Unhurt. Many many people up the mountain,” tweeted mountaineer Alex Gavan.
At least 13 people have been killed in India, with deaths also reported in Bangladesh.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met his ministers to review the situation. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has pledged help for the Nepalese authorities.
It is the worst earthquake to strike Nepal since one in 1934 which all but destroyed Kathmandu.