A GROUP of Irish people were caught up in the devastating Nepal earthquake but all were reported to be safe.
ore than 1,300 are known to have died in the earthquake, with many more feared trapped under rubble, according to officials in the capital Kathmandu.
A group of nine Irish experienced hillwalkers from Co Wexford had just arrived in Kathmandu after setting off from Ireland shortly before the deadly 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck yesteday morning at 11:41 local time (5:56am Irish time).
The group contains Riverchapel parish priest Fr Tom Dalton (45) and well-known local businesswoman Catherine Jordan.
Fr Dalton (45) from Riverchapel near Courtown texted a message from Kathmandu shortly after the tremor to report he, and other members of the group were all unharmed but they had witnessed serious damage in the area.
He told Fr Jim Butler, who is carrying out his duties in the Wexford parish while Fr Dalton was on the two week walking and trekking holiday in the foothills of the Himalayas: “All is well.”
Fr Dalton told his sister Joan at home in Wexford that the group were “very lucky” to escape injury.
The Wexford priest’s mother Frances, who lives in Arthurstown, Co Wexford, told the Sunday Independent: “He told Joan: ‘Don’t tell Mum’, but I had already heard the reports about the earthquake on the radio. He said they were now trying to get a flight home but all the airports have been closed because of the earthquake.”
Ms Jordan’s son Leonard confirmed his mother was among the 11 Irish people there. The group travelled together and were planning to go to a base camp at Mount Everest.
“The group are in Kathmandu at the moment. The main thing is they are safe and well, but very frightened,” Leonard said.
“I received a text from our mother shortly before 8am this morning saying they were lucky to be alive. It is very dangerous over there at the moment. They are stuck there and are looking to get out.”
Ms Jordan’s other son Keith added: “There’s a group of nine out there. They are expecting another shock in the next two hours. She called me at 8am this morning and she just said ‘get us out of here as quickly as you can’. As I understand it the airport is not functioning. CNN have said it’s been hit by the quake. They have asked me to organise flights as I have booked the original flights. The best route I can find right now is that if they travel to Bangladesh, which is an 18 hour drive away. They are all in the Hyatt hotel now, which seems to be one of the few buildings that was left standing after the quake. So it’s the safest place right now but they are also being told they need to move away from buildings and large walls and get out in the outdoors before the next shock hits. I just need to get them out of there now.”
It’s believed the group had just landed and were close to the airport in Kathmandu when the quake struck.
The 7.9 magnitude quake struck an area between the capital, Kathmandu, and the city of Pokhara, the US Geological Survey said.
Tremors were felt across the region, with further loss of life in India, Bangladesh, Tibet and on Mount Everest.
Another Irishman, Fachtna ‘Doc’ Clandillon who runs the Nagarhope charity in Kathmandu which is involved in helping orphaned children, was in a supermarket when the earthquake struck.
“All the stock and produce tumbled from the shelves,” he told his mother Niamh in a phone call.
“He and his wife and children are safe and unharmed,” Niamh told the Sunday Independent.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has put in place an emergency response team in Dublin to handle calls from citizens and concerned relatives.
It said in a statement: “The Embassy in New Delhi which is accredited to Nepal is liaising with actors on the ground, including EU Member States and other international partners in Nepal. Anyone concerned about friends or family in the region can contact the Department on 014780822.”