Mumbaikars who survived Nepal earthquake recall their 12-hour ordeal

Two Mumbaikars who witnessed the earthquake in Kathmandu recall their 12-hour ordeal till the rescue, and the extremes of selfishness and selflessness they observed in people

“In the midst of all the destruction, we saw the extremes of human nature on one end there were people who cared only for their own lives, and on the opposite, were those who helped others without thinking,” said Kritika Ajmani, a Mumbai-based blogger who witnessed Saturday’s earthquake in Kathmandu.

Indian nationals queue outside Kathmandu Airport yesterday. Rescue operations continued yesterday, following the earthquake on Saturday. Pics/PTI
Indian nationals queue outside Kathmandu Airport yesterday. Rescue operations continued yesterday, following the earthquake on Saturday. Pics/PTI

Ajmani was accompanied by Shubham Nag, both 24-year-old bloggers from Mumbai who had gone to attend the International Nepal Tattoo Convention from April 24-26. However, the convention attended by 2,000 tattoo artists from around the world - was cut short when the first tremors shook Kathmandu around 11.41 am.

Indians evacuated from Nepal deboard a C-17 Globemaster- III of the Indian Air Force at Air Force Station Palam, New Delhi
Indians evacuated from Nepal deboard a C-17 Globemaster- III of the Indian Air Force at Air Force Station Palam, New Delhi

At the time, the duo was at Hotel Ambassador, where they were staying. When they saw the lobby’s chandeliers shaking, they ran out onto the streets to see the enormous damage wrought by the quake. Ajmani, a Santacruz resident, said, “There were huge craters on the ground.

Kritika Ajmani and Shubham Nag, Mumbai-based bloggers, witnessed the earthquake in Kathmandu while they were there for a tattoo convention
Kritika Ajmani and Shubham Nag, Mumbai-based bloggers, witnessed the earthquake in Kathmandu while they were there for a tattoo convention

Also Read: Nepal Earthquake: The day the Earth shook

One of the cracks ran through our hotel, splitting it in two. Everybody was panicking.” She and Nag decided to head to Hotel Yak and Yeti, where the tattoo convention was being held. They had heard that other attendees were going to gather there and then go to Kathmandu Airport.

Also read: Death and destruction as massive earthquake hits Nepal

They had to walk for miles to get there, as even when they managed to find a taxi, the roads were too congested. “Our only view en route was total destruction. There was a public hospital that had collapsed and people were dragging patients out from the rubble.

The special forces were doing a commendable job of encouraging people and guiding them to the embassy,” Nag an Andheri resident recalled. They reached the airport hours later, and finally checked in around 7.30 pm. But the ordeal was far from over; this was when they saw the people at their most vulnerable, said Ajmani.

Most showed great lack of discipline and patience, and did not bother to help women, children or the elderly. “The authorities were calling out names of women, children and elderly who were to board the first flight to Delhi at 9 pm. But the people simply paid no heed and were forcing their way in.

They almost ran over a six-year-old child in the stampede,” she added. But if some were selfish, there were also those who were selfless. The child was saved by another youngster who got hurt in the process. A few guards and youths took charge of the situation and made a human chain, restricting the path of the crowd so people could board the plane in an orderly manner.

Ajmani and Nag eventually boarded the third flight which left Kathmandu around 11.30 pm, after experiencing the trauma for nearly 12 hours. Now safe in Delhi and looking forward to returning home to Santacruz this evening, Ajmani said, “In those 12 hours, we saw the best and the worst of humanity. We learnt the value of human life and to what extent one would go to save it.”

1,200 from state still in Nepal: CM
As many as 1,200 people from Maharashtra are stranded in the quake-hit Nepal, the state government has established contacts with around 1,000 of them, while 16 others have been rescued and brought back to India.

From the phone calls that we have received, it has been learnt that approximately 1,200 people from Maharashtra are stranded in Nepal. So far, we have information about 1,000 stranded people.

Today, 16 people from the state have been brought back to India and a large number of people are expected by late this evening,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Sunday.

Helpline Numbers

Kathmandu
Indian embassy in Kathmandu: +977 9851107021, 9851135141
Police emergency number: 4228435/4226853
Metropolitan police range: +977 4261945/ (Kathmandu) +977 4261790
Metropolitan police range (Lalitpur): +977 5521207
Metropolitan police range (Bhaktapur): +977 6614821
Paropkar Ambulance service: +977 4260859
Lalitpur Red Cross ambulance service: +977 5545666
Bishal Bazaar Ambulance service: +977 4244121
Red Cross ambulance service: +977 4228094

India
Indian MEA 24-hr helpline numbers
+91 11 2301 2113
+91 11 2301 4104
+91 11 2301 7905

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