Eyewitness: Nepalese people digging for their loved ones with their bare hands after earthquake

Portrush man Barry Torrens was in Nepal when the earthquake struck.
Portrush man Barry Torrens was in Nepal when the earthquake struck.

I’m in Kathmandu, in the heart of the devastation that was brought upon this city by the Earthquake on Saturday and the numerous tremors still happening. I’m here trekking to Everest Base Camp and after the trek we were spending a couple of days in the capital of Nepal to soak up the atmosphere.

The earthquake struck yesterday at 2pm, I was trekking across a river at the time, right on the epicentre to the West of the capital.

An injured child is carried on a stretcher after being evacuated by helicopter from Kathmandu, Nepal

An injured child is carried on a stretcher after being evacuated by helicopter from Kathmandu, Nepal

We knew immediately that it was an earthquake rather than the rumble from the traffic on the nearby highway because of the aggressive force underneath your feet. Mudslides and rocks from the surrounding hills started falling into the river and onto traffic on the highway.

We had two Nepalese guides with us and when we eventually reached the far shore they called their respective homes and were told that each of their houses had been destroyed by the earthquake.

We climbed to the road and waved down passing taxis to take us to Kathmandu to see if there was anything we could do to help and to take the guides home.

During the taxi trip the driver received a call telling him that his house was also destroyed. A horrible moment. When we arrived in Kathmandu it was absolute chaos, buildings lying on the roads, no electricity, pitch darkness apart from cars headlights and hundreds and thousands of people on the streets too frightened to enter any buildings.

We have had approximately 15 aftershocks. When they come the birds go crazy about 15 seconds beforehand and then the tremors, ranging between 10 seconds and 45 seconds. Obviously during the tremors there are a lot of people screaming fearing the buildings around them will collapse.

Nepal is a very poor country and Kathmandu is a very poor capital city. A vast majority of the buildings are held together by gravity and the slightest tremor brings them crashing down.

Buildings have collapsed all around our current location; before leaving for the trek yesterday morning I purchased lunch at the corner store, the attached is the photograph of the store 8 hours later. The Nepalese government have announced that there will be no more tremors, but they are still happening.

Unfortunately, the Nepalese people are not equipped for this tragedy. My thoughts are with those killed, injured and those family members left behind, some still trying to dig their relatives out of the debris with their bare hands.

They are a lovely race and they need as much assistance as possible. They are also a very patriotic and a religious people and our guide showing us around the city was so proud showing foreigners all of Kathmandu’s sites, most of them now destroyed.

There are approximately 50 of us all lying outside our accommodation in the garden/ carpark as our hotel has large cracks running throughout the 6 storey building and we expect it to collapse if there are any further strong tremors.

There was another hefty earthquake 24 hours after the first. Water is now running low and there are gangs of young men hanging around outside the hotels.

We managed to make our way to the British Embassy and are waiting for an update. Some other EU and foreign nationals not so lucky. No electricity outside the embassy. Being transferred to the British Gurkha Camp in the morning, flight evacuation thereafter.

I was in Nepal trekking to Everest Base Camp raising funds for a cancer charity and was aiming to be home next week.

Barry Torrens returns home to Portrush today (Thursday).