Sunday 18 March 2018

Change of trek plans saved Irish couple from Nepal avalanche

Arron Conran and Alex Murphy who survived the Nepal earthquake
Arron Conran and Alex Murphy who survived the Nepal earthquake

Elaine McCahill

A young Irish couple caught up in the earthquake in Nepal avoided an avalanche after they decided not to go to Mount Everest. Dramatic footage of the devastating avalanche that engulfed Base Camp emerged yesterday.

However, Arron Conran (22) and his girlfriend Alex Murphy (25) chose to go on a different trek as Everest was too expensive.

“Because they’re on a traveller’s budget they decided to do the Annapurna trail instead – it was a blessing in disguise,” his mother Tina said.

The young couple have since made contact.

“Alex had texted her parents and then a man from India also rang me to say that Arron was with his son and that they’re in a hut at the side of the mountain,” Tina said.

Read more: Families' desperate pleas for missing Irish as Nepal death toll passes 4,000

The shaken mum said that it was a second close call for her son within 12 months.

“This time last year he was in Australia on life support for five weeks and in a coma and now he’s off in this tragedy in Nepal,” Tina said.

“He got a rare lung virus and when I went over I thought I was turning off the machines. But he came out of it and started climbing mountains. He also survived Hurricane Charley when we were in Florida on a family holiday in 2004 and he’ll survive this.”

Other Irish who have made contact include Emmet Gallagher and his wife, Sylwia, who were also on the Annapurna trail.

“They only got married 10 months ago and this was a kind of honeymoon for them,” Emmet’s relieved sister Melissa said.

Teacher Jacqueline Bushe (54) was also unhurt but had been unable to tell her family until yesterday. Darine Flanagan (22) managed to call her mother Ger on a friend’s phone.

Read more: Death toll exceeds 4,000 as aftershocks terrify survivors

“They had been outside Kathmandu when it happened. I’m just so relieved,” she said.

Dubliner Cliodhna Cork (21) is also accounted for, as is Galwegian Megan Vine (30), who was trekking with her partner, British national Avi Ratnayake (37).

Oliver McKevitt (24), Mark Campbell (56), Laura Cullen (29) and Marc Peter O’Connell (54) have also been found.

Irish Independent

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