Nepal Earthquake – the first few days

Time hasn’t really made much sense since the major earthquake hit Nepal on April 25th. So, it’s seems quite fitting that only now, almost 4 weeks on, am I able to go back and write about those first few days. Although even as I write this a sizeable aftershock has just rocked the house. As if we needed a reminder that this still far from over. More of my feelings about the earthquake are captured in my previous post;

#1 Day #1 – the quake. Moments before the first 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, I was introducing VSO’s newest, youngest and probably cutest ever mascot to the team for their inter-NGO indoor football tournament. Shouts of ‘Go! Go! VSO!’ were still echoing when the world suddenly turned upside down. Later scenes of our mascot being carried past piles of rubble. A particularly haunting image for me; in case of further earthquakes, disruption & possible separation, my guests decided very sensibly to write emergency contact numbers about their person. We really did not know what was around the corner. For the first few days we spent a large amount our time simply waiting in a variety of open spaces. Final picture, a private water tanker has generously stopped to offer free water to anyone with a container at our impromptu camp for the day;

1 summary

#2 Below spectators and players mingled together in the nearest open space to the football ground as the initial aftershocks rumbled on with great regularity. After a while however everyone dispersed to try and check on loved ones or in our case find some lunch… On day #2 we decided to explore my local area of Patan and passed many groups staying together and staying safe such as under the tent below; 2 people

#3 Though large sections Nepal’s capital Kathmandu had escaped relatively unscathed from the earthquake, in the clear light of day #2 we started to see up close more examples of the immense destructive power and it’s possible impacts; 3 20150426_114850 (2)

#4 Buildings, temples, walls – many of each had come crashing down during the earthquake. The impact on nearby cars helps perhaps give an impression of the speed with which damage was wrought; 4 cars

#5 Another example; rubble strewn across the road from the fire station in the Pulchowk area of Lalitpur district;5 20150426_115119 (2)

#6 Most significant for me personally was viewing Patan Durbar Square on day #2. This amazing world heritage site is less than a 10 minute walk from my home and an absolute favourite for taking guests to or simply enjoying a stroll around and meeting friends. Though in a way the damage was not as devastating as the media had led me to believe, I was still moved by the loss of heritage and iconic national symbols. Also, on a personal note, I had stood by these temples many times, with friends, guests and by myself. I can only imagine how absolutely terrifying to must have been to have been close to them at the moment the earthquake hit. On day #2 the area was quiet and cordoned off. Search and rescue efforts had ceased and the clean up would commence only after the risk of aftershocks reduced; 6 square

#7 As I have been reliably informed by some readers that I do not feature in enough of the photos on my blog (I also intend to actively remedy this in my next post) here is a shot of me looking simply bewildered amongst the rubble of one of many old temples, razed to the ground, beautiful tiles lying smashed at my feet;

7 shocked

#8 On day #3 one of our main topics of conversation was how to get my lovely earthquake buddies out of the country. As they had no flights set, but their extra week of exploring Nepal now seemed ill-advised, we explored all possible avenues including applying for Indian visas. On the way to the Indian embassy in the north of the city, we passed numerous petrol stations handling massive demand for fuel. Luckily our transport was an electric tempo (which must have been able to successfully charge) otherwise pedal power was winning the day again. Below residents sit in the open near to a destroyed temple in Patan. For the first 72 hours in particular, it didn’t seem practical, possible, imaginable even to do much more than sit in a safe place and wait;

8 after

On the evening of day #3 however, with my guests safely at the airport awaiting flights, I was able to start lending a hand. More on that in my next post…

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