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May 2015 - Update from Nepal: Earthquake in Nepal


Saturday 25 April 2015 - At 06.30 I left the house to take the half hour walk to Boudha, as I do most Saturday mornings when I am in Kathmandu. I join with the other Sherpa and Tibetan people walking round the Stupa.

After my usual number of circuits I had some tea in the restaurant I have known for many years, with a rooftop view of the main Stupa. As usual I called in to see some Sherpa friends on the way home, when I eventually arrived home the rest of the family were all outside. Tshiring does have to attend college on a Saturday and Kunga Doma was overnight at aunties house. Yangji called just as I arrived to say that she had gone to one of the big Gompa's (Monastery) at Boudha together with other Sherpas to attend a special Puja (ceremony).

I cooked some food and made some tea, just finished the washing up and suddenly the whole house started shaking, I ran down and outside and I could hear-but not see-buildings falling. Further out on the horizon large clouds of dust were rising into the sky. The shaking lasted for what seemed to be several minutes, (others later said one and a half minutes) and our house continued to move but structurally no serious damage and eventually it stopped moving - all other local people had run outside also and we could only wait and watch. The main earthquake came at about 11.45 and in the next hour there were more than 15 aftershocks.

It was after about one and a half hours I noticed water running off the flat roof of the house. After another hour I decided to have a look inside the house. Cabinet doors had been shaken open and cups and saucers and various other items of crockery etc. thrown onto the floor and some broken, other things were scattered all over the floor. On the roof the plastic water tank had been moved in the shaking of the house and a plastic pipe broken and all the water was draining out. There was nothing I could do to stop this unfortunately.

I was continually trying to contact the family by phone but the system was just overwhelmed, or out of action. (Aftershocks continued throughout the afternoon and during the night) Fortunately later in the afternoon various family members began to return home with details of all the damage that had been done elsewhere, I had not seen any of this as I was all time at home in Kapan, situated on the outskirts of the main city, I did not see any of the destruction until many days later.

On the night of 25 April we used our tents and stayed outside of the house - aftershocks could be felt all of the night and around midday on 26 April a second less severe earthquake occurred - again fortunately not causing any structural damage to our house. Several cousins from our extended family came to us for shelter and our numbers more than doubled. We have enough tents and mattresses etc. and hopefully food supplies would be OK. Initially Yangji used a wood fire for cooking and then after two days we brought a gas cylinder outside from the house and used this for the next few days, later we also did some cooking inside the house. We all used the tents for the next six nights, after this the family moved back inside and I stayed outside for a further five nights with my final two nights inside before my scheduled departure flight on 08 May.

From the time of the earthquake on 25 April we had no electricity for the next six days. This caused difficulties with communications, phone batteries could not be charged after a day or so. In the days after the main quake I began to get a little information from out in the Sherpa villages in Khumbu. Yangji's family house in Chaurikhaka, close to Lukla, was completely destroyed in the main earthquake, along with many others in the village; Yangji's elderly Mother and Father were OK. Pangum village appeared to have no major damage. We were also hearing of many other Sherpa lodges and houses in various parts of the Khumbu that had also been destroyed. As far as I could determine at that time everyone associated with Nepal Trekking was OK.

It was only after seven days that I began to see reports on television of the devastation in other parts of Kathmandu and out in the districts in other areas of the country that were so badly affected. I was able to use a local cyber shop to try and come up to date with my emails etc. for the first time after the main earthquake. We had been very fortunate in the Kapan area were the house is situated and where there are open spaces and most houses were not badly affected.

Throughout Kathmandu electric was not available for more than a week in some places. Offices and shops were closed and we never moved far from our house for over a week. I had been in touch with the offices I am involved with and everyone was OK but with no electric and most internet services out of action, or very unstable, it was not practical to open. It was Sunday 03 May before I could get to the airline office to reconfirm my scheduled departure on 08 May, their computer systems had been down for over a week, once again, fortunately, I am known to the airline office staff and all was OK. Once I left the house to walk into the main city I began to see some of the damage caused, on my particular journey most damage was to high walls, and just a few houses were damaged. It was very different in other areas of the city with all neighbourhoods destroyed in some places.

Every day from the main earthquake on Saturday 25 April until, and including, the day of my scheduled flight, Friday 08 May, there were numerous aftershocks.

I had to stay two nights in Dhaka, due to flight changes, and I arrived back at London Heathrow on Sunday 10 May early evening and it was early hours of Monday 11 May before I arrived home. I made a call to Nepal early on the Tuesday morning 12 May and was told by Tshiring that there had just been another major earthquake (12.50 Nepal local time) and they were all outside, fortunately again no one was injured and no major damage to the house. Shortly after this call I began to see the reports from UK and Nepali TV and internet sites. Once again in the following days the family stayed outside in tents and each day several aftershocks occurred for the next week.

   

Recovery from the earthquake damage will take a long time, perhaps years, and with Nepal Trekking's commitment to the Sherpa Community we are fund raising, initially you can contact Denis with any donation, we will also make our Sherpa Village Fund bank account available to accept bank transfers. We are looking at other ways to raise funding also and any help will be much appreciated on behalf of the Sherpa people. Updates will follow how to make donations.

More Info:

Photos by Nepal Trekking

Satellite photos before/after

Mapping the 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Denis Gallagher
Nepal Trekking
May 2015