National

‘We saw buildings crumble, roads crack’

Indians evacuated from Nepal at the Palam AirForce Station in New Delhi on Sunday.  

“Unforgettable... scary...I feel as if my building here [hundreds of miles away from Nepal] is moving...,”says Dipesh Sharma, a regional manager of a U.S.-based company, sitting in his house in Pune on Sunday.

Among the hundreds of Indians who returned from Nepal after the earthquake on Saturday, Mr. Sharma and his family are haunted by the horror of the disaster.

Mr. Sharma and his family were on their way to Kathmandu Airport after the completion of a five-day pilgrimage-cum-sight-seeing tour of the Himalayan country when the quake struck. Just a few kilometres off the ancient city of Bhaktapur — now reduced to a ghost town —their SUV suddenly started moving in an unstable manner as the earth shuddered violently.

“At first, we didn't know what was happening...Soon we could see buildings far off crumbling, roofs falling and people jumping to save their lives...the roads developed cracks, some almost one foot wide. It was scary...” Mr Sharma said.

Horrific tales

As Indians pour in from Nepal, they relate horrific tales, many still in a state of shock, having witnessed death and the devastation in a tourist paradise.

Milind Purandare, all-India sales manager, Girnar Tea, said he felt as if he has got a “second-life.” Along with 26 other tourists, Mr. Purandare, who is from Mumbai, was just getting ready to board the bus waiting outside their hotel in Kathmandu for the airport, when the quake struck.

“Nobody was being able to keep their foot on the ground ... it was so powerful. And, right in front of us we saw buildings crumble and roads crack up. The basement of the hotel lobby developed cracks,” said Mr. Purandare. “There was so much panic and tension that nobody could take any photographs,” Mr. Purandare said.

Construction manager, Harshad Karavadara, 36, who reached his home Rajkot in Gujarat early on Sunday, said each time he thinks of his time in Nepal a chill goes up his spine. Mr. Karavadara and his family were out shopping when the third floor of the hotel they were staying in, close to the famous Pashupatinath Temple, collapsed. . “It was heart-rending to see the Nepalese woman shopkeeper, from whom we had just bought clothes, crushed to death. Her shop was in the basement of the hotel...my wife and child had developed a bond with her...it is distressing...” Mr. Karavavadara said.

According to Sameer Sahai, Additional Resident Commissioner of Maharashtra Sadan, around 9,000 persons, including foreigners, were stranded at Kathmandu Airport.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 8:32:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/we-saw-buildings-crumble-roads-crack/article7144295.ece

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