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Showing posts with label Nepalearthquake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nepalearthquake. Show all posts

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Earthquake in Nepal: 3 days of terror without internet and electricity : A personal account

The April 25th 2015 was an experience that would always stay in the back of my mind forever. It not only gave me a new perspective regarding importance of pity things but it gave me a new definition of why we should not have big building in our country and why we need free internet and services at times of emergency.

Early morning the day started as usual, it was Saturday so the weekends are like very crazy and out of routine. We got up late and processed the daily chores. Around at 10:50 we had our meal and as we were schedule to go outside. I went up to the terrace just for a view and that was my lifetime experience, the devastating earthquake started and it just prolonged. I witnessed the 7.8 rector scale earthquake on the 3rd floor of my house in the open sky. As soon as it started it shook the ground up and down and the feeling was scary. I started shouting but in back of my mind thinking people would get me wrong, I could not stop myself. I saw people running in the nearby open space. I hurriedly made it to the second floor as my wife was there and together we made it to the lower floor. We were careful enough to hold on to the safety of the corridor as it was pretty shaky and bumpy.

My mother and father both were at the ground floor. My mother told us that she fell down and she could not stand up similarly my father also expressed the same feeling that he could not walk.
In seconds, we made it to the ground floor and we accompanied them outside to the open ground.

The earthquake was truly phenomenal as it went up and down first and then it shifted to and fro so the combination of the earthquake was like a cocktail that gave a mild hangover of a lifetime.

After coming down we all gathered in the open space in front of my house. A lot of people were shouting and were in a state of panic. Somebody said the corner building is down, so my brother and me we made it to the place. The building was completely down and overlapping each other. We preliminary scanned the place accessed the damaged. We tried to see for any sort of movement but we could not find anything.

The situation was so traumatic that 3 buildings on the edge of a petite street had collapsed leaving no room for support. Within in seconds, we were joined by few more people and we rescued few from the place. The earth started wobbling we ran back with the people making it safe to the open ground. The situation was stressful as more than 200 people had gathered there. To add fury they were in a chaos I knew that it’s easy to handle a crowd while they are listening but managing a crowd in chaos is very tough. I tried my level best to calm them and give space for women, children and old age people. My objective then and there was to settle them. People were petrified as the earth was shaking and six story building in-front was shaking like crazy.

Now I had realized that living in a community if you do not speak at the right time then it would hamper at times of need. As we ignore the fact that there was a six story building built in-front of the open space that too illegally. We all ignored it and today it was one of the major risk for the lives of the people.

It seemed as if the ground was shaking continuously. I shouted on top of my voice garbing their attentions. "Clam down its over ". Though I was scared inside but I had to shout as there was no option.

As soon as the tremors were over we again made it back to the spot few police personnel and other volunteers were there they were trying their best to find and rescue people inside.
They said the roads were blocked from all sides and it would take time for the rescue team and volunteers to reach the spot. So we decided to help them in every possible way.

The spot was vulnerable and very tight so only few people marched in.  The risk of debris was pretty scary as 3 building had collapsed side wise on top of each other.

The police personnel and volunteer rescued 2 more people and we were told 2 more people were stranded in the rubble. We made it back to the open ground and asked the people to help few more stepped in. Then again we made it back to the site. I could not step in physically to help as my clavicle bone is fracture so I could lift weight so I knew that at times of crisis you have to be resourceful and you need to act smart. Looking at the situation I felt we the volunteer and police personal needed mask as the house debris and dust had fogged the place.

Since it was a time to act, so I again made it back to the open ground and asked the people to help. People openly handed over their scarfs and I collected them and gave it back to the volunteers and rescue worker.

In minutes we got the news that we were hit by a massive 7.8 rector scale earthquake, people further panicked. With the help of few people, we tried to calm the crowd as every few seconds the aftershock were giving a jolt punch and people were losing their control.

Some were calling their families and some were trying to search their family members, the open space was pretty pact with people and the situation was a chaos.  Due to the large number of people trying to get to the network the telecom services were down, even the emergency numbers were unreachable.

Few of them logged on to internet with 3G service which was amazingly active. We got to know that the nation was hugely struck by the earthquake and the coming 48 hours were very crucial.

The aftershock occurred frequently and people were started getting adjusted, after 2 hours a group of policemen came in for rescue. They tried their best but could not go inside.

The trapped old lady and girl situation was unknown. As the family members went in they said they could hear a tapping sound. Everybody in the ground started praying.

 Few more groups joined the army rescue team and the armed police force group but nothing could be done. Amazing thing was they were not even prepared they had no tools and they were just forced into the operation. Most of them waited in the open ground as if they had the responsibility of being their but when it came to action nobody dared to make their hands dirty.  

As the dusk fall the team was joined by a local Chinese man who said he had worked in the Chinese military and was involved with such operation. Immediately he went inside and made a hole. The Chinese man was later accompanied by few more friends. He assured the victim’s family that they would do everything possible to bring back his mother and daughter.

 More groups joined in but most of them stared and few of the groups just barged in, one of such group was the search and rescue team of ward no 17. I really do not know what they did and why they were their but they just sat there and helplessly watched.
One thing good about them was they had the basic equipment and the team was using it for the rescue operation.

Similarly another team of National Society for Earthquake Technology - Nepal (NSET) made it to the ground zero with equipment but after 2 hours they returned reasoning nothing could be done.

Later around at 10 PM the Chinese came out and said he had to go back and come back tomorrow with more equipment and people. The victim’s father and family members pleaded with every group but they were turned down.

Most of the group reasoned the place was difficult and it was impossible to do the rescue operation except for the Chinese guy who went in and at least tried.

The devastated family had no option except to wait endlessly for tomorrow hoping it would bring better opportunity.      

During the night few more groups visited the site and left there was only assurances and hope of the girl and the lady being alive. We desperately waited and watched hooping there would be a good news but every time we all had to face the harsh reality.  

Most of the public gather slept outside in the open space, few of them managed tarpaulin and most were bound to sleep in the open sky. We just prayed please god NO RAIN today.

We were awake till 3 AM as the aftershocks were continuously jolting the ground. People were still coping up to the situation and every time there was an aftershock they would leave everything and gather in groups. It was merely a nightmare that prolonged on and on.

The second day started with rumors that a more powerful earthquake was coming up and everybody was scared and was in midst of what next?

Apparently with the whole trauma of the first day, we were somewhat prepared than the first day. The morning buzzed with destruction news that was on. All the UNESCO heritage sites are affected, our culture and tradition everything Nepal was famous for was down to rubble. To the other side of the story local thugs and thieves were getting very active and it was advised to be careful about your property and belongings.

By this time all of our phones were nearly dead we were just looking for a place to charge, as turn by turn people were flocked to available place soon in hours it ran out of electricity.

Phone calls started ringing and family members abroad were panicked and the situation further tensed. As it’s said the death doesn't kills you with no reason but the fear of death kills you with no reason. People acted like headless chicken. Now we had a time frame of 72 hrs. where the possibility of living was completely impossible.

Few more groups came excavated the scene but none dared to enter inside by 10 AM the Chinese group came with more supports and load jacks. Now we thought may be things could go right and lady and girl could be rescued. To our bad luck it rained and we just prayed things would just be right. The Chinese team worked their way and despite the rain they continued their efforts.

In the late afternoon they returned saying there were other places they had to go. Nothing was done everybody desperately waiting.

The 3rd day started with high hopes, the earthquake aftershock frequencies were relatively low and new aspiration were on. In the late afternoon the Chinese team recovered the death body of the old woman and they left the scene. They made it clear that there were no survivors and the knocking sound was made by the dead body. The expert also explain that during time of disaster the body goes into shock and at such times the body release the energy in variable action that keeps working still after hours of death.

In the evening a Dutch team returned with sniff dogs but the dogs could not trace anything and it was confirmed no survivors

On the 4th day the Armed police force recovered the body of the girl

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