India and Nepal could see another major earthquake anytime in the future, as studies have shown that the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April had not released all of the seismic energy 'locked' under the Himalayan thrust fault.
What is worse is that the April earthquake, which was epicentered near Kathmandu, pushed some of the seismic energy towards the west towards India, which further increases the probability of a major earthquake striking the region, according to studies published in the Science and Nature Geo Science journals on Thursday.
The 500-mile stretch from Delhi to Pokhara in Nepal is particularly prone to an earthquake, and the population density in the region could make such a future earthquake highly disastrous.
"This is a place that needs attention, and if we had an earthquake today, it would be a disaster because of the density of population not just in western Nepal but also in northern India, in the Gangetic plain," University of Cambridge Professor Jean-Philippe Avouac told BBC.
"At the moment, we are quite worried about western Nepal," he said.
The devastating Nepal earthquake, which killed more than 8,500 people, had occurred due to the 'unzipping of the lower edge of the locked portion of the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT) thrust fault, along which the Himalayan wedge is thrust over India', the Science journal study stated.
The seismic energy has been built up over centuries under the faultline since the boundary between India and the subcontinent has become 'locked' and immobile. Such energy is released through earthquakes, that can be devastating for the region.
While thankfully the entire seismic energy was not released during the 25 April earthquake, which would have led to further deaths and destruction, it also means that the energy is waiting to be released.
The studies also point out that the Nepal earthquake instead pushed some of the energy westward, 'facilitating future ruptures'.
Another factor that contributes to the theory that an earthquake is likely to strike the region soon is that it has not struck the area since 1505 when an 8.5 magnitude quake shook the region.
The best way to ensure casualties are limited in case of such a calamity is preparing locals through emergency drills and ensuring better construction of buildings.
"Lives would be saved by drilling school children in western Nepal and the nearby plains of northern India in how to react in the event of an earthquake, and in ensuring that at least school buildings are adequately constructed to survive seismic shaking," another professor told BBC.
Perhaps India and Nepal can take cues from Philippines, which recently held a large-scale drill in Metro Manila to prepare citizens for an impending 7.2 magnitude earthquake, predicted by the national seismology institute.