| June 27, 2019

Earthquake 2015: A narrow escape

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It was a terrible experience. We - my wife, my eight-year-old daughter, and all the staffs of my office - were in Sindhupalchowk district when the devastating earthquake struck on April 25. We went there for a short vacation. We were saved just by 5 minutes for several times but all the time God saved us.

When we reached the border Tatopani, we decided to take natural hot bath instead of entering China  outright. We stayed overnight at a hotel. Had we entered China that day, we would have been taking bath at the time of earthquake.

Next morning, we left for Khasha City where we did shopping on the border side. And just 5 minutes before we entered Nepal, we faced a terrible quake. If that happened five minutes later, we all would be buried under the landslide.

We took shelter in China that night. Chinese military and police helped us a lot. All the night we had terrible feelings of double quake - one from aftershocks and the other from landslides.

We hoped that Nepalese Army and Police would rescue us the next morning so we crossed the border. Since the moment we crossed the border, Miteri Bridge, we felt like hell. There were neither police nor military. What we noticed were just trucks, buses destroyed by landslide. We couldn't think of anything except running for our lives. All the roads were full of debris. On the way we saw our jeeps and the hotel where we stayed the night before had been destroyed by rocks fallen down from the cliffs above. We didn't have any choice except running ahead. At one place I fell down where I saw a corpse buried under the fallen rocks. Then I was afraid whether we would suffer a similar fate. So I asked all the members of my team to throw all the baggage away and carry just the blankets we purchased at Khasha market so that we could run fast and blanket would keep us warm at night.

On the way we saw numerous corpses on the road buried under the fallen rocks and inside the destroyed buildings. After 5 hours of running (some of them with bare feet) we reached a little safe ground where we saw many people to have been injured and they all were waiting in a big ground just beside army barrack for the helicopter, to be rescued. But we didn't see any army personal working for rescue operations. There we felt another big quake. After some rest, we again moved ahead, fearing the possibility of landslide. On the way we saw another dead body of a biker crushed by a big rock. We were horrified that the rocks would fall down. We also saw, from the broken wall of a house, the head of a small boy buried under debris in a room. After a while we reached a place named Chaku where one side was hill and the other side was river and again hill. There people requested us not to go ahead but to take shelter there.

But we were trying to move ahead. We reached the power house where a tunnel construction was underway. The landslide was still occurring above the tunnel. A bus with a man inside was buried by landslide. One brave young man showed courage to rescue him. But before he could reach there, again a big slide fell over the bus and all gone in a flash. Then we decided to shelter there at Chaku while returning home. A group of workers dared climb the hill to escape from there. We were advising them not to go but they didn't hear us. As soon as they started to climb, they were also buried under the slide. We heard a loud rumble. That was the second major quake. After the blast, there were dry landslides all around the hills. We saved ourselves sitting under a slab of stone. No rocks harmed us.

Then we again ran back to Chaku for shelter. The villagers allowed us to stay under their tents. The evening fell. We were afraid. Landslides were occurring continuously. Someone said that landslide blocked the major course of the river, creating an artificial lake. There was no sound of river-flow. We all were frightened but after sometime, the clogged river reclaimed its course. We heaved a sigh of relief for a while. Again some people, who came from Kathmandu, passing through hills and jungles, told us that the hill beside that place was developing fissures. It could collapse anytime soon. They suggested not to stay there. Next day around at 4:30 am all the people in that area began to climb the hill to escape. We also followed them. After climbing two hours we succeeded to cross the hill.

As we were on the other hill, a big tremor was felt. Someone said the hill collapsed that we had just crossed. We thanked God for saving us. The people who did not come with us and stayed down at Chaku were trapped then. But we had no other option, except climbing hills. Fatigued by climbing hills, we trudged few miles to Marming village. We stayed for a while. That was a bit high place from where we could see all around. We saw some people running in front of the hill. Before crossing the hill, landslide blocked their way. Then they came down from the same landslide. They had no option. Some were injured.

It was raining. Some said flood would sweep away all of us. So we had to climb again. After hours of hectic climbing, we reached atop the hill. That plateau, locally known as Chaur, was a safe place. All the locals from neighboring villages were taking shelter there. We were also provided with a tent. We took rest for some time.

Later in the day, military helicopter flew above us. We had little hope. Young ladies flagged red clothes high. The helicopter took two rounds and flew down toward Chaku. It landed at the military barrack and rescued some injured people. After some time we noticed a private helicopter flying around. A total of eight helicopters landed and rescued army staff from there. We all were embarrassed and felt that only military were human beings – not the public. We slept under the cold open sky that night.

One of our team members was heart patient and he was running out of medicine. We were afraid that other accident could befall. So we decided to leave that place, too. Next morning we headed to Bahrabise passing through jungles, hills, cliffs, springs, and muddy ways. Many of us were injured but didn't lose the courage to reach the destination. At last we reached the main road of Bahrabise. We felt more relaxed but that didn't last longer. A heavy rain began to fall. We had again fear of flood and land slide. Anyway we crossed the last landslide site and reached a police station. There we reported to police about the situation and requested them to rescue the victims. Then we hired a jeep and moved back to Kathmandu.

Along the way we didn't see any houses in good condition. Everything was cracked, buried under rubbles and destroyed. Blacktop roads were seen cracked. People were panic-stricken all along the way. After three nights and four days of dreadful experiences, at last we reached our home with reincarnation.

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