When Kunal Deshmukh left for a friend's wedding in Kathmandu four days ago, little would he have imagined about a fun trip turning into a nightmare of sorts. As Nepal's worst earthquake in eight decades struck on Saturday — recording 7.9 on the Richter scale and claiming more than 1500 lives — the director was desperate to call up his loved ones and inform them of his well-being. But thanks to jammed phone lines, his family spent a few anxious hours before they heard his voice in a five-second call.
"We were extremely worried when news first trickled in about the earthquake," said Kunal's sister, Devika. "I am in Jakarta with my parents. After trying his number several times, I managed to speak to him through one of his friends, but the call lasted for only five seconds due to poor network. He was standing in the lawns (of Gokarna Forest Reserve) when the quake hit and he is safe. I spoke to him again when he was waiting at the Kathmandu airport," she said with a hint of relief in her voice.
Rescue workers in Kathmandu carry an injured man to safety. Pic/Agencies
Concerned about his safety, Mahesh Bhatt tweeted soon after the incident, saying: "Can someone help us search Kunal Deshmukh (director of my film Jannat) in Kathmandu? He was living in the Gorkana Forest Resort (sic)." Mukesh Bhatt said he had spoken to Kunal before he left for Kathmandu. "After we heard the news about the tragedy in Nepal, we tried calling him up, but didn't get through. Today, the airport has been closed down due to powerful aftershocks. We are trying to put him on the first flight back home," he added.
Also Read: Nepal Earthquake: The day the Earth shook
Kunal's stylist-friend Rick Roy is also relieved after speaking to him. "I called him many times, but the phone lines were busy. I sent him a few text messages and when I didn't get a reply, I began to panic. But a few hours later, I spoke to a common friend who was with Kunal at that time. Thank god he is safe and sound," he said.
A source close to the director says he is still in a state of shock. In a text message Kunal tells us, "The network is bad and I am at the Kathmandu airport. Trying to get home."
The airport was shut down again at 1.15 pm yesterday following the strong aftershocks. In a tweet, Mahesh Bhatt wrote, "Kunal says: Jet flt is suspended. Airforce has promised to get all of us out. They are setting up tables for chai, parathas & puri bhaji (sic)."
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