Nepal earthquake: Thorner man’s ‘devastation’ at disaster

The devastation of the Nepal earthquake. (S)
The devastation of the Nepal earthquake. (S)

A man from Thorner has spoken out about being caught in the earthquake in Nepal that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people.

Roger Strachan, 19, returned yesterday to the village in which he lives with his parents.

Thorner resident Roger Strachan, 19, who has now returned home from Nepal. (S)

Thorner resident Roger Strachan, 19, who has now returned home from Nepal. (S)

On April 25, however, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, he was on the second floor of a Kathmandu restaurant with four friends.

Speaking to the Wetherby News, he said: “We felt the building violently shake and hid under a table while the walls around us started cracking and falling. That lasted for maybe 10 seconds and there were aftershocks for the next two days.

“We went out and saw panic on the streets. The area we were in was very touristy and a lot of people were running away from the buildings that looked very unstable and Nepalese people were closing up their shops.

“It was about five or six hours after when we realised the damage. We had no wifi or phone connection and it was later in the day when we started hearing about the casualties.”

The devastation of the Nepal earthquake. (S)

The devastation of the Nepal earthquake. (S)

Mr Strachan had been teaching English at the Chandi School in Besi Ahar - a rural area in the Lamjung district - since January.

He arrived back on British shores yesterday morning (April 30) on the flight arranged by the government, which rescued 120 British nationals.

Hearing about the devastation in the small South Asian country, where 3,000 people are still unaccounted for in one of the worst affected districts, Sindhupalchowk, Mr Strachan said he feels lucky, but also acutely aware of the suffering in Nepal.

“I feel extremely lucky and it is the suffering of the Nepalese people that makes me feel lucky. We know people there who are suffering, so I am devastated.

“There are people living under shelters that are desperate for food and water. The rural area where the school is now cut off.

“I feel very devastated and helpless as well. I am very worried about my friends that are over there at the moment, and about my students.”

It is being reported today that 6,134 fatalities have been confirmed, with 13,906 injured.

It has been estimated, by Ram Sharan Mahat, Nepalese finance minister, that it will take at least $2bn to rebuild all of the destroyed homes, hospitals, government offices, and historic buildings right across the country.

About 90 per cent of clinics and schools in some districts are believed to be unusable, and the UN has launched an appeal for £270m while Nepal calls for more helicopters.

All of this adds to the worry of Mr Strachan, who knows how badly the rural area around his school will be suffering now.

“They rely on agriculture mostly over there and their water is unsafe as it is, they have to boil it,” he said.

“There is only one road to this rural area we were in, so water will be scarce as they try and get as much of it as possible and it will be more contaminated.

“The most worrying thing is that it is going to be very difficult to get aid up there, they have to rely on helicopters and there is a shortage so really their life is a great struggle and afterwards I think it is going to be very difficult to pick themselves up.”

Five days after the earthquake, a 15-year-old boy was rescued from beneath the debris of a seven storey structure and had stayed alive by eating pots of ghee and drinking water dripping from his clothes.

UK aid donations have reached £19m and leading agencies have launched TV appeals. Aid will include a medical team with equipment, airfield handling equipment, and water, health, and sanitation experts.

Bad weather is inhibiting some efforts, with helicopters, including three British chinooks, sent to help. However, 60 search and rescue teams are said to be on the ground looking for survivors.

In addition to the official death toll, 19 people have died as a result of the avalanche at Mount Everest base camp, caused by the earthquake.

Mr Strachan, who will be studying Classics at the University of Cambridge from September, has set up a website with his friends and is encouraging people to donate and help people in Nepal. The link is: https://www.justgiving.com/earthquakenepalappeal/