Heartbreak in Nepal
The earthquake that would hit Nepal May 12 was at a magnitude of 7.3 in the Dolakha district, the epicenter located in the area bordering Sindhupalchok and Dolakha.
Here are the events as I saw them on May 12th and 13th:
At 4:30 in the morning, my good friend Chris and I slipped past the gates of the apartment building we were staying in, careful not to wake the stray dogs sleeping in the alleyway and into an awaiting vehicle. Waiting for us was our friend Lakpa and his staff, with a bus loaded down with aid supplies for the little village of Khare in the district of Dolakha.
Our bus got held up in Charikot, after about five hours of driving. We waited for an hour and half, which we would later realize was a blessing. More paper work had to be filled out for the police before we would be allowed to continue. Finally on our way, we passed through the small villages of Suntakanee and Sikha and continued down through the narrow winding roads. All of a sudden the trees started to sway very fast and I thought to myself "that’s strange." I heard Chris yell out Landslide - and there it was, in front of our bus about forty feet.
The bus started to shake and cries of "earthquake, earthquake" could be heard. Everyone scrambled out of the bus as the ground beneath the bus and our feet started to open up. In the surrounding hillsides you could see massive landslides. You could hear the screaming of the injured and dying their voices coming up from deep in the valley below, then more tremors, another landslide sixty feet or so behind our bus. The tremors kept coming and coming, the ground shook violently, the road continued to crack. We felt that the best place was in the woods off the road where the roots of the trees would hopefully support the ground. More tremors followed by more massive landslides that could be seen across the valley floor and in the path of other villages.
We were all in shock of what was happening all around us. After some time the Nepali staff of Lakpa and Chris went back and cleared the debris from in back of our bus as best they could and got it the bus turned around, the road in front of us was no longer passable. Lakpa, Chris and I hiked back to the little village of Sikha, and after some time the others showed up with the bus as more tremors shook the ground. The people of the village were all crouching in the corn field as some of their houses lay in rubble and then the ground started to shake violently again, before my eyes houses started to tumble like dominos one by one. People were holding on to each other tears of sadness and pain were running deep into the earth.
My heart, our hearts, felt their pain. These beautiful people had very little and now they had nothing. Lakpa, Chris and I made the decision to give some of the aid to the village. There were about 54 households and each one received enough rice to feed their family for about a month, along with salt and cooking oil. Tarps were also given to those that needed them for shelter in both villages of Sikha and Suntakanee. That night we would stay in Sikha, I would sleep in the bus and Chris and Lakpa would sleep in a tent in the corn field. Deep into the night we were hit with a torrent of rain,and I awoke soaking, as unbeknownst to me, the bus had a hole in it.
Traveling back through the country side in the daylight was heart breaking, every village that we passed by was more of the same, houses were either destroyed or unlivable. The government reported that vehicular movement in the area past Sikha has been halted due to more landslides triggered by the earthquake and that the death toll continues to rise. Helicopters were trying to get to the villages where roads were impassable to aid those injured. An Army helicopter is missing with six US Marines and two Nepal Army soldiers who were trying to aid those in need.
This beautiful place that I have treated as a second home for years is suffering, and I feel heart break on a daily basis as I do what I can to help aid it.