Newspaper headlines: 'Shaken to the core'

The earthquake which struck Nepal on Saturday is the main story in much of the British press.

The quake - measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale - "wrecked houses, levelled centuries-old temples and triggered avalanches on Mount Everest", in the Observer's words.

The paper reports at least 18 people have died on the world's highest mountain and hundreds of others are trapped.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The earthquake was the worst to hit Nepal for 80 years

The overall death toll has reached 1,300, mainly in Nepal although parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have been affected.

A Nepalese man who lives near the epicentre of the quake tells the Observer: "Our village has been almost wiped out. Most of our houses are either buried by landslide or damaged by shaking."

In a sidebar, Robin McKie, the paper's science editor, reports that the "shallow" source of the quake - 11km below ground - added significantly to the amount of damage caused.

The Independent on Sunday says that many of the buildings in Nepal were of poor construction and collapsed easily, although it notes that Kathmandu's Dharahara Tower - a nine-story monument built in the 1830s, also collapsed.

"Nepalese television reports showed people digging by hand to reach those trapped in mounds of rubble," the paper adds.

A number of Britons have been reported missing in the Himalayan country.

The Sun on Sunday reports that a newly-wed couple Alex and Sam Chappatte of London are among British climbers trapped on Everest by avalanches. The couple had wed two weeks ago.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mount Everest

Another Briton in the area James Grieve spoke to the paper via satellite phone, saying the shaking lasted two minutes and "you could feel Everest move".

The Sunday Telegraph reports half of the 70 climbers on a British-organised expedition are missing on Everest, including climb leader Dan Mazur, of Bristol.

Mr Mazur tweeted he was trapped at 20,000ft with no apparent route down the peak. He urged his Twitter followers to "pray for everybody".

The paper reports this time of year is popular with foreign travellers to the region, and Nepalese authorities say 300,000 tourists may be in the country.

Amid six pages of coverage, the Telegraph tells how the quake triggered landslides which obliterated entire villages and cut much of the country's power supplies.

"Science is unable to predict quakes with any accuracy," the paper adds.

'Generation Rent'

On the domestic front, the election coverage rattles on with various politicians and columnists telling us who to vote for and why the party they are opposed to would be a disaster for Britain.

One of the few policy stories in the Sundays concerns a plan by Ed Miliband to reintroduce rent control.

The Sunday Times says Labour will ban private landlords from putting rents up by more than the inflation rate in the party's "latest populist pledge of state intervention".

"In the most far-reaching changes to the private rental sector in a generation, landlords and letting agencies would also have to disclose the rent paid by the previous occupants in a bid to deter rent rises," the paper continues.

It adds the move is an appeal to what the Labour leader calls "Generation Rent" - middle-income voters who have been priced out of the housing market and middle-aged parents whose children cannot afford to move out.

Image copyright Thinkstock

The paper adds that the party will also promise to penalise "rogue landlords" whose properties do not meet basic standards, by taking away half of their buy-to-let tax allowance.

They will also scrap letting agents fees paid for by tenants.

The Sunday Times says the move will squeeze the income of buy-to-let investors and those using rental income to fund their retirement.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has registered its opposition to the proposal.

The Sunday Mirror interviews Mr Miliband who said: "We want to encourage all those responsible landlords who provide decent homes for people and stable income for themselves.

"Too many people are struggling with the cost of putting a roof over their heads."

The Observer notes 11m people, including 1.5m families currently rent in the UK.

It adds: "Labour is trying to seize the initiative after a Tory plan to extend the right to buy to those living in housing association homes was widely criticised by housing experts, and some in the Conservative party itself."

'Powered through'

It's the time of year when the Sunday Times publishes its annual Rich List.

This year, the paper reveals that the "super-rich" have "powered through the recession" and are collectively worth double what they were worth in 2009.

The wealthiest 1,000 people in the UK are worth £547bn - an 112% rise in six years, the paper explains.

This year saw the biggest annual increase in estimated wealth in the 18 years the paper has been publishing its Rich List.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Britain now has 117 billionaires

You need at least £100m to even sneak into the supplement, it expands.

George and Amal Clooney are among new entrants, sneaking in the lower reaches with a "modest" combined fortune of £121m.

"The rise in the wealth of the top 1,000 is so sharp this year thanks to the booming stock markets," the paper says.

It notes that London now has more billionaires than any other city in the world, and the UK is third behind the US and China in the number of super-rich citizens.

The paper's editorial speaks up for the super-rich.

"To some such wealth is an affront, and in the context of the election, an open invitation to vote for the party that promises to do most to raid the bank accounts of the rich."

But it adds: "Driving out the super-rich would not benefit anyone apart from Britain's rivals.

"Losing the tax they pay - more than a quarter of income tax comes from the highest-earning 1% - would make us all poorer."

Old onions

So what else is in the Sundays?

Well, the Sunday People is one of many publications showing a poll by readers of Auto express magazine.

Its "hall of pain" compares the cars that owners say are worst for back problems with those which are rated most comfortable.

The Nissan Note Mk 1 is dubbed Britain's most uncomfortable car, with Fiat Panda, Toyota Yaris and VW Passat models also making the top 10. The slightly pricier Lexus RX Mk2 is voted the most comfortable set of wheels.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption British bluebells are facing competition from an Iberian immigrant

If you are feeling at ease thinking of that luxury interior, prepare to be uncomfortable again, when you read in the Sunday Times that the number of rat bites requiring hospital treatment is soaring.

The paper says 40 people attended A&E after being bitten by the rodents in 2013/14, compared to 23 in 2008/9.

A further 1,188 needed treatment for bee, wasp and hornet stings and 3,988 had complications arising from flea, mosquito or bedbug bites.

All this is being blamed on cuts to council vermin control services, the paper adds, although warmer weather, the popularity of compost heaps and urban chicken-rearing also plays its part.

Shall we move swiftly from irritating nature to something more soothing? Bluebells.

Enjoy them while you can, the Independent says, as the native bluebell variety are in danger of being wiped out by a Spanish interloper which has "the scent of old onions".

The paper explains that Hyacinthoides hispanica arrived in the UK from Iberia and is now spreading rapidly.

Botanist Dr Trevor Dines tells the paper: "We love native bluebells for their wonderful scent of cooking apple, mango, lychees, ginger and freshly mown grass, but that plant is in real danger.

"The threat is that genes from these Spanish bluebells will dominate native plants and within 50 years we could lose all the special characteristics we love in our native plants."

The Daily Mail has a story about "lesbians".

If you are wondering why quote marks are used, the paper's feature is about the ancient inhabitants of the Greek island of Lesbos.

The paper says a BBC documentary will reveal that far from its modern same-sex connotation, Lesbos was the "Magaluf" of Ancient Greece.

It had developed a reputation for "sex tourism" and the word "lesbian" came to mean something very explicit between heterosexual couples.

Who says you never learn anything from the papers!

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