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Experts warned of a tragic earthquake in Nepal a week before it happened

Omar Havana/Getty Images

One week ago, experts warned Nepalese officials of the type of earthquake and aftershocks that hit the Asian country over the weekend and killed at least 2,500 people.

The Associated Press's Seth Borenstein reported:

Just a week ago, about 50 earthquake and social scientists from around the world came to Kathmandu, Nepal, to figure out how to get this poor, congested, overdeveloped, shoddily built area to prepare better for the big one, a repeat of the 1934 temblor that leveled this city. They knew they were racing the clock, but they didn't know when what they feared would strike.

Seismologist James Jackson, head of the earth sciences department at the University of Cambridge in England, told the AP that he didn't expect such a huge earthquake to hit so soon, but experts were warning that something like it was possible.

Not only is Nepal on top of a natural seismic fault, but local infrastructure is so poorly built to resist earthquakes that the tremors can lead to far more casualties than they would in other places across the world. US Geological Survey seismologist David Wald estimated to the AP that the same level of severe shaking would lead to 10 to 30 deaths per million residents in California, but kill 1,000 or more in Nepal and up to 10,000 in parts of Pakistan, India, Iran, and China.

"They knew they had a problem," Hari Kumar, southeast Asia regional coordinator for GeoHazards International, which works on global earthquake risks, told the AP, "but it was so large they didn't where to start, how to start."

Watch: What a 6-magnitude earthquake does in China vs. the US