General

Scores died in Capital during Saturday mass

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, KATHMANDU
Scores died in Capital during Saturday mass

May 9, 2015-

When the Great Earthquake rocked the country on April 25, Biraj Ghale was with his family members at a church in Sitapaila. Around 70 people were inside the church at the time,only a dozen of them including Ghale and his mother managed to escape before the building collapsed.

Only one man was rescued alive from the rubble while the others perished, including Ghale’s father--the pastor at the church--his brother and his uncle. “When I looked back from the road,a majority of the people who were praying with us had been buried,” Ghale said.

According to the Metropolitan Police Circle in Swoyambhu, the church was the worst-hit building in the area. Forty-four bodies were recovered from the building debris.

“This is the biggest death toll reported from a single building in our area. Many buildings have collapsed but very few people were inside during the tremor,” Sub-inspector Prem Khatri said.

Police record shows that the fatalities were particularly high in Sitapaila, Kalanki, Gongabu, Thamel and the neighbourhoods inside Kathmandu that had many old buildings.

Just like Ghale, Susana Limbu was also praying at a church on the sixth floor of a seven-storey building in Kapan. The church had rented two of the floors in the building where Christian families living near the area gathered for prayers every Saturday. The building, too, gave way during the earthquake, killing many people inside. “We huddled together when the building started shaking violently,” Limbu said. “I have no recollection what happened next. When I woke up I was in hospital. ”

Limbu and her family were among the lucky ones who survived the incident. There were around 70 people in the church alone while several families lived in other floors.

Police said 29 people died and around 60 others were injured when the building fell.

“It’s difficult to ascertain how many people were inside the buildings that had collapsed. The search for bodies is still on, though the primary focus now is on relief works,” one police official said.

Many buildings that had collapsed in Gongabu and Kalanki were rented out to hotels. Police said a majority of the victims who died in these areas were aspirant migrant workers.

Among them was Rishi Khanal of Arghakhanchi who was planning to go to the United Arab Emirates for employment. He was trapped under the rubble of his hotel building, his left foot crushed under concrete pile.   

“There were many aspirant migrant workers like me in the area who stayed in hotels. Some of them waiting for their flights and the others waiting for their documents. Many of them didn’t make it,” said Khanal, who spent a harrowing 82 hours entombed underneath a huge pile of rubble. Khanal survived, but lost one of his legs in the Great Quake.

 

Published: 09-05-2015 09:19

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