Tuesday 12 December 2017

'I managed to dig myself out using my hands like claws - I couldn't breathe'

Injured Sherpa guides sit inside a bus after they were evacuated from Mount Everest Base Camp
Injured Sherpa guides sit inside a bus after they were evacuated from Mount Everest Base Camp

Tom Bawden

A huge operation was under way last night to rescue dozens of survivors trapped on Everest following avalanches triggered by the Nepal earthquake. At least 17 people are thought to have been killed.

Yesterday, accounts of the tragedy on the mountain emerged on social media as those trapped sought to let loved ones know they were safe, after snow and rock loosened by Saturday's earthquake swept through base camp, a village of nylon tents and around 400 people.

A second avalanche occurred yesterday morning.

The survivors of the mountain's worst-ever disaster include a number of Irish people, while Daniel Fredinburg, a senior American executive at Google, was among the dead. Britons known to have survived include Alex Schneider and Sam Chappatte, both 28, who were on their honeymoon, as well as Daniel Mazur, a climber from Bristol.

"A massive earthquake just hit Everest. Base camp has been severely damaged. Our team is caught in camp 1. Please pray for everyone," Mr Mazur tweeted.

Newlyweds Alex Schneider and Sam Chappatte told of their experiences in a joint blog: "We staggered out to see an avalanche coming straight at us. A blast of wind knocked us down but we were able to get up and run to shelter behind some tents and anchor ourselves with axes."

Another Briton, 39-year-old Nick Talbot, was attempting to be the first climber with cystic fibrosis to scale Everest. "This was like a tsunami. I saw this wall of snow and ice coming. I ran away. I thought, 'There is no chance I can get away.' I just had my socks on. It knocked me into the rocks. I got up and it knocked me over again," Mr Talbot said.

Bhim Bahadur Khatri (35), a cook for a climbing team, said the quake hit when he was preparing a meal. "I managed to dig out of what could easily have been my grave [using] my hands as claws to dig as much as I could. I was suffocating. I could not breathe. I knew I had to survive," he said.

When he finally dug his way out, part of the base camp had been destroyed. "I looked around and saw the tents all torn and crushed. Many people were injured. I had lived, but lost many of my friends," Mr Khatri added.

Irish Independent

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