Engineers inspect quake-damaged homes in Nepal's capital

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. More than 7,600 people died in the quake.

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

An elderly Nepalese walks past a damaged temple performing rituals to end the mourning period of a family member who died in the April 25 earthquake, in Bhak...

An elderly Nepalese walks past a damaged temple performing rituals to end the mourning period of a family member who died in the April 25 earthquake, in Bhaktapur, Nepal, Wednesday, May 6, 2015. The April 25 earthquake killed thousands and injured many more as it flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings and archaeological sites in Kathmandu. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

"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 afraid 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.

The confirmed death toll from the quake rose to 7,652, with more than 14,500 injured, Deputy Inspector General of Police Kamal Singhbam said in Kathmandu.

On Wednesday, some families of victims marked the end of the traditional Hindu mourning period. Many others will mark the day on Thursday, the 13th day since the earthquake.

It is customary among Hindus in Nepal to mourn for 13 days. During this time close family members stay at home, do not touch outsiders and refrain from eating salt. No entertainment is allowed.

A Nepalese boy, who lost a family member to the April 25 earthquake, walks past debris as he performs rituals to end the mourning period, in Bhaktapur, Nepal...

A Nepalese boy, who lost a family member to the April 25 earthquake, walks past debris as he performs rituals to end the mourning period, in Bhaktapur, Nepal, Wednesday, May 6, 2015. The April 25 earthquake killed thousands and injured many more as it flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings and archaeological sites in Kathmandu. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

FILE - In this April 29, 2015 file photo, people clear the debris from damage caused by an earthquake in Sakhu, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal. Sakhu i...

FILE - In this April 29, 2015 file photo, people clear the debris from damage caused by an earthquake in Sakhu, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal. Sakhu is where the side streets are choked with chest-high hills of bricks, concrete and wood after the massive earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25. (AP Photo/Bernat Amangue, File)

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