WORLD
The Nepal Earthquake - An Entire Country Destroyed in a Few Minutes
30 April, 2015
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“As if in a disaster movie, the building before us rumbled and slowly fell apart. We were enveloped in a storm of dust. The sight of roads buckling, twisting and breaking shocked us. People were buried beneath waves of rubble. All this continued for just a few seconds, and when I looked up, I couldn’t believe my eyes – the city was leveled to the ground. The rumble and creaking continued for quite a while after
the main shockwave, but very soon it was drowned out by screams,” recalls Giorgi Shamridze, a Georgian tourist, who was in Kathmandu when the calamitous earthquake struck, followed by several aftershocks.

According to Western media, the number of casualties caused by the catastrophe may soon exceed 10,000. Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, the country’s most densely populated area, has suffered the strongest hit.

Giorgi Shamridze, Georgian tourist:

– Search and rescue operations are still being conducted among the ruins. The most heart-wrenching sight of all is the dust-covered, filthy and scared people stalking the rubble in a faint hope of finding their family members or friends. I cannot get the memory of a young woman begging rescuers to dig out her three children and a younger brother from beneath a wrecked building out of my head. She was out in the city selling sweets when the earthquake hit and, as she claimed, she barely managed to find her house afterwards. There are many people with fates similar to hers. They meet every person released from a stone prison, living or dead, with equal joy, singing prayers and chanting.

– As we’ve been told, you survived the earthquake by accident. Is this true?

– Yes. My friends and I stopped at a hotel, but Kathmandu is a place where a tourist regrets even the time spent sleeping. On the day of the earthquake, we decided to visit a café to give the local cuisine a try and caught a rickshaw to get us there. This is when it all began. The experienced driver instantly realized what was happening and jumped off the vehicle. We followed suit and soon realized that we were extremely lucky – we were out in the open, away from Kathmandu’s narrow, crowded streets. I can hear the sound of the collapsing buildings even now. When the earth quaked, everything fell to rubble in a hurricane of dust. The shockwave was so powerful that the city, which mainly consisted of old buildings, was literally leveled. Now the locals are in dire condition – their water supplies are dwindling and the sewer system is no longer functional. There is a very real danger of an epidemic. Rescuers and relief workers were sent here from all over the world, including post-Soviet countries, and I hope they will make things right.
Beso Khvedelidze is a Georgian writer who moonlights as a tour guide in Nepal. As he claims, the city of Pokhara, where he currently resides, was completely untouched by the earthquake. “Please do not panic,” says the writer, whose 14th journey to the mountainous country made him an unwilling witness to the terrible disaster that befell it.

Davit Pipia, Georgian tourist:

– Local rescue services are no longer able to handle the task, so we decided to volunteer. People from all over the world have gathered here to help. There is no lack of people fleeing the country, either; all roads leading from the capital are packed and there are massive queues at Kathmandu Airport. However, the airport is reserved for military and rescue craft, but that does not stop people from trying to climb aboard anyway.
I am amazed by the behavior of the locals, though. They are mourning their ruined history and culture rather than homes and families that were lost. Restoration of numerous historical sites, temples and landmarks that were destroyed by the earthquake is nearly impossible. They are also very annoyed by clueless tourists taking photos of themselves standing in the ruins, so I’d advise anyone in Kathmandu to cut down on photography – for now, at least.

Georgian tourists plan on leaving Nepal on April 30. Tourist companies overseeing their stay in the country have already achieved an agreement with Air Arabia to ensure their safe return to Georgia.
According to widespread information, humanitarian organizations worldwide are preparing for a massive joint relief effort to help the disaster-stricken country.
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