Nepal: Frightening mountain survival stories

Nepal: Frightening mountain survival stories

Two stories from lucky survivors of the earthquake and avalanches in the area of Mt Everest, one from a diving business owner in Thailand and the other from an AFP photographer.

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Nepal: Frightening mountain survival stories

Here are two stories from survivors of the earthquake and avalanches in the area of Mt Everest. The first comes from Ben Reymenants the owner of a Rawai diving business who was trekking in the higher regions around Mount Everest with his wife Simone:

He talked to the Phuket News by iPhone yesterday. He said the earthquake occurred about 12:15 on Saturday.

Story 1

"We were at 5,000m (above sea level) in a snowstorm and we nearly fell off the mountain.

"When everything started shaking, we took refuge in a small teahouse. At first, we thought it was the storm growing in intensity, but then we were horrified to see cupboards toppling over. We realised the Nepalese staff had left the teahouse.

"We quickly grabbed one backpack containing our survival equipment and took shelter. Rocks tumbling down."

Nine hours later, scrambling through rock piles and landslides, they started to realise the scale of the damage.

Houses had been flattened, yaks – the local equivalent of the buffalo – had been pulled off the mountain and the earth kept rumbling. Ben and Simone took refuge for the night in the dining area of a lodge, being woken several times by the aftershocks.

The second big aftershock was at 1pm on April 26 in Namche Bazaar.

"We had finally found a hostel that was intact. As we were checking in on the third floor, the building started swaying and bricks began falling from all sides. We flew down the three flights of stairs, trying to keep our balance on the rocking staircase, dodging falling bricks.

Collapsed walls in Phakding, between Namche Bazaar and Lukla. (Photo by Ben Reymenants for Phuket News)

"Back on the street, the situation was worse. We were trapped between two collapsing buildings, with no place to run to. But we knew we had to keep moving fast. We passed grassy areas where people had gathered, waving helplessly to the helicopters overhead, but they were flying to Everest Base Camp where an ice avalanche had buried dozens of climbers.

"We had to run with 25kg backpacks between the aftershocks. Basically that's what we've been doing for the past 48 hours. We hide and then we run.

"There is no help here. It's like a war zone. We have spent 22 hours walking through a disaster zone. We felt that we were so very lucky.

"There were no supplies. We managed to get some soup and luckily carried a lot of survival food and a water purifying system. We still had to run out into the open several times a night during aftershocks."

Monday afternoon (April 27), the couple reached Lukla, a small town  used as an access point for Everest climbers, so has accommodation and an airstrip.

Simone, exhausted, can go no further for the time being. Ben said, "We're stuck in Lukla, high above Kathmandu.

Read the full story here:

A day earlier Roberto Schmidt, AFP South Asia photo chief, was also in Lukla where he recounted his near-death experience at a nearby Everest base camp.l

Minutes after arriving at the Mt Everest base camp on April 25, 2015, Roberto Schmidt looked up to see a cloud of snow and debris triggered by an earthquake flying towards him, moments ahead of flattening part of the camp in the Himalayas. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT

Story 2

"We had just arrived after a nine-day trek. We hadn't been there more than 10 minutes we just felt this rumbling, this moan. Ammu (Kannampilly, AFP's Kathmandu bureau chief) said to me: 'What's that?' I said it's the earth moving, it's an avalanche.

"I grew up in Colombia where we used to have many tremors but never heard anything like this.

"We went out of the tent and then we heard this most horrifying sound. It was like a train but came from so deep, just so powerful.

"It was so cloudy, Ammu went into the tent and I remember looking to my left and suddenly saw this, this wave, with the rumble and I just thought 'holy shit'. It was so big, the pictures don't really do it justice.

"I grabbed the camera, just pressing the shutter, I got three shots and then it was right over us. I jumped in and went under the table.

"You have this wind and then it's like a wave crashing, we were swept up, you don't know if whether you are upside down or what. You are just tumbling.

Rescuers help a porter onto a makeshift stretcher after he was injured by an avalanche caused by an earthquake, before being evacuated to a medical tent in another area of Everest Base Camp. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT

"Finally I came to, resting on my back and then I felt this tack, tack sound of falling rocks and you know I just felt 'this is it. I'm going to be buried alive'.

"They kept on piling on top of me and then finally there was this stillness, this complete stillness, and I knew I was alive. I knew I was conscious and I had to work out how I was going to breathe.

"You're trying to clear everything away, trying to get some air... and then suddenly I felt this hand pulling me up and it was our sherpa Pasang.

"Ammu was bleeding and the nail on her left hand had been completely torn off.

"We were lucky as I think our tents were next to a rock which stopped us from being completely swept away.

"I said I need to find my camera and he just handed it over to me, encased basically in a block of snow. The camera was fine, the lens wasn't even broken.

Nepali men carry the body of an earthquake victim towards a helicopter to be evacuated from the northeastern Nepali town of Lukla on April 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT

"We went out of the tent and people then started appearing out of the blue, all very dazed. I started shooting and then you think, should I be taking pictures or helping people?

"In the next hour, you could hear more than half a dozen other avalanches in the vicinity. They were close but you couldn't see them as it was so cloudy. The sound was very scary, very haunting, you didn't know if it was coming your way.

Read our full Nepal earthquake coverage here:

Learn from listening

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  • access (verb): to allow entry to a building or place; to be able to get to something - ทำให้เข้าสู่ได้
  • accommodation: a place for someone to stay, live, or work - ที่พัก
  • aftershock: a sudden movement of the Earth's surface which often follows an earthquake and which is less violent than the first main movement - แผ่นดินไหวเล็กน้อยที่เกิดหลังจากแผ่นดินไหวรุนแรง
  • airstrip (noun): a narrow piece of cleared land that an aircraft can land on - ทางวิ่งของเครื่องบิน
  • appear: to be seen - ปรากฏ
  • avalanche: a mass of snow, ice, mud or rock that falls down the side of a mountain - ก้อนหิมะ (น้ำแข็ง,ดิน,หิน) ที่พังทลายลงมา,สิ่งที่พังทลายลงมา
  • backpack: a large bag, often supported on a light metal frame, carried on the back and used especially by people who go climbing or walking - เป้สะพายหลัง, กระเป๋าสะพายหลัง
  • balance: the ability to keep steady with an equal amount of weight on each side - ความสมดุล, การทรงตัว
  • bleeding: losing blood, especially from a wound or an injury - เลือดออก
  • block: a solid piece of stone, wood, ice etc with straight sides - ท่อนหิน, ท่อนไม้, ก้อนใหญ่, ชิ้นใหญ่
  • brick: baked clay used for building walls, houses and other buildings - อิฐ
  • buried (verb): covered completely by something - ฝัง
  • collapsed: fallen down -
  • conscious: aware - ที่ตระหนักได้
  • cupboard: a piece of furniture with doors and shelves used for storing dishes, food, clothes, etc - ตู้ถ้วยชาม,ตู้เสื้อผ้า, ตู้อาหาร
  • dazed: very confused and unable to think clearly because you are shocked or have hit your head - งงงวย, ตกตะลึง
  • debris: broken pieces that are left when something large has been destroyed - เศษ ซากปรักหักพัง  ซากสิ่งของที่ถูกทำลาย
  • disaster: an unexpected event, such as a very bad accident, a flood or a fire, that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage - ภัยพิบัติ ความหายนะ
  • do it justice: to describe something accurately - อธิบายได้ถูกต้องหรือตรงตามข้อเท็จจริง
  • dodge: to avoid something unpleasant - หลบหลีก
  • earthquake: a sudden shaking movement of the ground - แผ่นดินไหว
  • encase: to surround or cover something completely, especially to protect it - หุ้มอย่างมิดชิด, ปิดด้วย
  • equivalent: the same as; equal to - เท่าเทียมกันกับ
  • evacuate: to leave a place because it is not safe - อพยพออกจากพื้นที่
  • exhausted: extremely tired - เหน็ดเหนื่อย
  • flatten: to make something flat -
  • flight (noun): a series of steps between two floors or levels - ขั้นบันไดระหว่างชั้น
  • for the time being: for the present time, but probably not for a long time - พลาง
  • gather (verb): to come/bring together in a group - รวมกลุ่ม, รวมตัวกัน, จับกลุ่มกัน, ชุมนุม
  • grab: to take or hold somebody/something with your hand suddenly, firmly or roughly - จับ,ฉวย,คว้า,แย่ง
  • haunting: causing repeated suffering or anxiety - ทำให้กังวล
  • horrified: very shocked or frightened - หวาดกลัว, ตกใจ
  • horrifying (adj): making you feel extremely shocked, disgusted or frightened - สยองขวัญ
  • hostel (noun): a building that provides cheap accommodation (places to stay) and meals to students, workers or travellers - ที่พักราคาไม่แพงสำหรับนักเดินทางอายุน้อย
  • injured (adj): hurt in an accident, natural disaster, attack, etc. - ได้รับบาดเจ็บ
  • intensity (noun): strength - ความเข้มข้น
  • landslide: a mass of rock and earth moving suddenly and quickly down a steep slope - แผ่นดินถล่ม
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • makeshift: used temporarily for a particular purpose - ซึ่งทดแทนชั่วคราว, สำหรับใช้ชั่วคราว
  • moan (noun): a long low sound of pain, suffering or another strong emotion - การคราง, การร้องครวญคราง
  • nail: fingernail -
  • out of the blue: completely unexpected -
  • pile: to put objects one on top of another; objects positioned one on top of another - กอง
  • porter (noun): a person whose job is carrying people's bags or other loads - พนักงานถือของ
  • purify: to make something pure by removing substances that are dirty, harmful or not wanted - ทำให้บริสุทธิ์
  • realise (verb): to know about - ตระหนัก  รู้
  • recount: to describe how something happened; to tell a story - เล่า, บรรยาย
  • rock pile (noun): a high mass of rocks - กองหิน
  • rumble: to make a long deep sound or series of sounds - ดังฟ้าร้อง, ส่งเสียงครางยาว
  • rumbling (noun): making a long deep sound or series of sounds - ดังฟ้าร้อง, ส่งเสียงครางยาว
  • scale: the size or extent of something, especially when compared with something else - ขนาด, ระดับ
  • scary: frightening - น่าตกใจ, น่ากลัว
  • scramble: to do something in a hurry - รีบเร่ง
  • shake (past form shook): to move or make someone or something move with short, quick movements - สั่น, สั่นสะเทือน, เขย่า
  • shutter: the part of a camera that opens to allow light to pass through the lens when you take a photograph - ทิ่ปิดเปิดรูแสงของกล้องถ่ายรูป
  • situation: all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์
  • staff: workers employed by a person or organisation considered as a group - คณะผู้ทำงาน, คนงาน
  • staircase: many steps that a person can walk up on - บันไดทอดหนึ่ง
  • stillness (noun): the quality of being completely quiet and not moving - ความนิ่ง, ความคงที่, ความเงียบ
  • stretcher: a type of bed used for carrying someone who is injured, ill, or dead - เปลพยาบาล
  • stuck: unable to move, or fixed in a particular position or place - ติด
  • supplies: the things such as food, medicines, fuel, etc. that are needed by a group of people - สิ่งที่จัดหาให้, เสบียง, เวชภัณฑ์
  • survival: the fact or state of continuing to live or exist, especially in difficult conditions - การอยู่รอด
  • survivor: someone who still exists after an event that could have killed or destroyed them - ผู้รอดชีวิต
  • sway: to move slowly from side to side; to move something in this way - แกว่งไปมา, โซเซ
  • swept (past form sweep): moved quickly through an area; moved with powerful force - เคลื่อนไปอย่างรวดเร็ว, พัดพาเอาไป
  • take refuge: to go to a place which provides protection or shelter from danger or trouble - ลี้ภัย
  • take shelter (verb): to find a safe place to stay - หาที่ปลอดภัย
  • topple: to cause to fall - คว่ำลงมา
  • trapped: to be in a dangerous or unpleasant situation from which it is difficult or impossible to escape - ถูกกับดัก
  • trek: a long and difficult journey, usually but not always on foot - การเดินทาง
  • trekking (noun): a long, hard walk lasting several days or weeks, especially in the mountains - การเดินป่าหรือภูเขา ,การเที่ยวป่าหรือภูเขา
  • tremor: a shaking of the earth; an earthquake - การสั่นสะเทือน
  • trigger: to cause - ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น
  • tumble: to fall down - ล้ม,ล้มลง,ตกลง,หกคะเมน
  • upside down: in or into a position in which the top of something is where the bottom is normally found and the bottom is where the top is normally found - พลิกเอาด้านบนลงล่าง, กลับหัวกลับหาง
  • vicinity: an area near a particular place - บริเวณใกลเคียง
  • wave: a line of something that moves across an area - คลื่น
  • zone: an area that has an important or typical feature; an area where a particular activity is allowed or not allowed - พื้นที่, บริเวณ, เขต

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