US helicopter disappears while supporting quake-struck Nepal

It disappeared while responding to the latest tremor to hit the mountain nation.

Nepalese patients lie on stretchers in an open area after being carried out of a hospital building as a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hits the country, in Kathmandu, on May 12, 2015. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - A US Marine Corps helicopter has vanished from the radar while supporting earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.

Six US marines and two Nepalese soldiers are said to be on-board the aircraft that went missing this afternoon.

Latest figures put today's death toll at over 50 people with dozens more displaced.

It disappeared while responding to the latest tremor to hit the mountain nation just weeks after the massive quake that killed over 8,000 people.

Project Hopes' Kenly Flanigan is in Kathmandu and says there were scenes of panic.

"People were running outside, all the businesses closed and everyone was running around and screaming, trying to get out of the city as quickly as possible."

Dozens of people were killed in the latest disaster but the death toll is expected to rise as recovery efforts continue.

FRESH EARTHQUAKE BRINGS PANIC, DAMAGE AND DEATH TO NEPAL

The latest earthquake spread panic in Nepal, bringing down buildings already weakened by a devastating tremor less than three weeks ago and unleashing landslides in Himalayan valleys near Mount Everest.

Most of the reported fatalities were in villages and towns east of Kathmandu, only just beginning to pick up the pieces after the 25 April quake.

The new earthquake was centred 76km east of the capital in a hilly area close to the border with Tibet, according to coordinates provided by the US Geological Survey.

Villagers who watched their homes collapse said they only survived because they were already living in tents.

Aid workers reported serious damage to some villages in the worst affected Charikot area and said some people were still trapped under rubble. Witnesses said rocks and mud came crashing down remote hillsides lined with roads and small hamlets.

"We still don't have a clear view of the scale of the problem," said Dan Sermand, emergency coordinator at Medecins Sans Frontieres, which surveyed the area by air and saw multiple landslides.

The United Nations has only raised 13 percent of the $423 million it said was needed to help Nepal recover from the April tragedy, and relief workers warned that even more funding would now be needed.

In the town of Sangachowk, residents were outside receiving government food aid when the quake struck.

"It was really lucky. If we were inside, it would have been a lot worse," said Purushottam Acharya.