“25th april 2015 THE NEPAL EARTHQUAKE experience”
25 april 2015, our departure date for Tibet. The rest of the bags that is necessary for a big expedition to the highest summits of the earth is now packed. We are happy and excited comfortably sitting in the jeep, which brings us to the Tibet border where we will need to change car after passing the border, watching the different sceneries.
The weather is changing but we can feel the heat from the lower altitudes.
A few kilometres only before reaching the last village in Nepal, and after more than 4 hours of driving, a rough road follows to reach the border. We then pass nearby the big lake that was formed last summer by the terrible landslide that has destroyed a whole village and killed more than 200 hundred people. The road seems suddenly to become really rough…But we do not have time for any more thought, as big rocks are falling down from the side flank of the road in direction of our car. We just have time to jump out of the car and run away in order to get safe. We think of a new landslide happening in this very narrow valley with no way to get out. But with a rapid glance around us we note that in fact we are in the middle of a big earthquake…
Being close to a small village, while running to check where to find a safe place, we note that some houses have been devastated. Together with the crowd we quickly join the upper part above the village. Around us, lots of fear, people crying, kids holding their hands, some barefoot other searching for their parents. People are running by from everywhere to get as us to the small terrasses prepared for the local crops in the higher part of the village. We do not have time to calm down our minds before we feel the next shake…and see the dangers again of “Dame Nature” when she is angry. Shake means rocks falling down on one side of these flanks around us.
Since then, long hours of waiting are following cut by the fear and the adrenaline shots felt at each new earth shake and rocks rolling down the mountains.
At nightfall everyone tries to install some shelters on these small terrasses with what can be found. A few cookies lost in the backpack serve as dinner. No one has the courage to go down to the village. We are finally several hundred of people spending the night on these terrasses.
24 hours separate the first big earthquake (7.9 on the scala) from the second one (6.4), smaller but much closer from where we are. This second one kills again more people, the 24-courageous one who attempted to escape out of the valley. A strong dust reaches our “camp”. The earth continues then regularly to shake.
The days pass by in a strange atmosphere. We are approximately 30 tourists besides the local people, which forms an interesting mix of cultures. The hygiene is precarious and the food is counted. Some of the local people, although most of them have almost lost everything but still open their door (or what remains of it…) to cook some rice on the wood fire. We are extremely thankful to them and admire their immense generosity. On its side, an important corporation of the local police is proudly wearing its uniform to relax under the sun. No any kind of organisation is put on place by the officials to ameliorate even a little bit the shelters and the hygiene. No information is from their side spontaneously communicated. The tension is rising among the people present.
Some of the people spend the fresh nights without covers, babies snuggle in the arms of their mom, a woman gives birth in the middle of the night and the older people try as they can to get a protected place.
Some injured people flock from everywhere around, some being in terrible shape…The numerous persons who tragically died on the way below and until the border are for the moment not evacuated and left among the bunch of rocks. The road is still totally blocked and the threat of falling rocks high.
On the third day, we see finally the first small army helicopter arriving. A sad spectacle is playing in front of our eyes, healthy people running, pushing, fighting to get inside the helicopter whereas the injured people are lying/sitting near the helipad that was prepared at this occasion. The police tries as much as possible to contain the hysteric crowd. A second helicopter is shortly after appearing. An older lady with her daughter and grand-daughter, all not injured at all, get without any doubt of shame to take place inside of the helicopter under the knowing glance of the present police, whereas a seriously injured kid is taken out of the helicopter again….We feel as being in the middle of a bad dream….but it is the reality that happens under our eyes. We are under total shock as the helicopter is leaving.
One has to wait until the fourth day to finally see the army helicopter bringing some medicines and bags of rice.
We slowly realise the immense chance we had and how lucky we were not to finish our way under some rocks or other…
Back to Kathmandu, we are now busy in organising some help through our association www.butterflyhelpproject.org to the remote areas outside of Kathmandu that have been seriously touched by providing some food and shelters.
We thank you so much for all your kind and supportive messages and thoughts that touched us a lot and, which we now transmit to all the Nepali people.
THANKS A LOT!!!!
…several times while writing this text, one had to run out to let pass the few earth shakes….the house having now some additional cracks in the walls…..Everything is still fresh in our minds and we continue to sleep outside of our cracked building under tent.