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I felt the walls would cave in and trap me: Quake survivor

Kathmandu: "It looked like the walls of the house were converging and I would get trapped between them," recollects Sudha Upadhaya, a week after the devastating earthquake rocked Nepal on a balmy Saturday morning.Upadhyaya, 54,
i felt the walls would cave in and trap me quake...
IANS May 02, 2015 13:44 IST

Kathmandu: "It looked like the walls of the house were converging and I would get trapped between them," recollects Sudha Upadhaya, a week after the devastating earthquake rocked Nepal on a balmy Saturday morning.

Upadhyaya, 54, told IANS that she was watching television when the quake struck. "Incidentally, the television was flashing a scroll message on how earthquakes cannot be predicted, when it actually struck. Now I feel that the message was like a warning," she said.

The housewife added that it was within seconds that her house started shaking like "they show it in the movies", she said comparing it to "Earthquake" a Hollywood movie made in 1974. "I barely managed to walk to the door and just stood there holding it as tight as I could, chanting all the mantras I know. I thought this was it," she said, describing it as "the unforgettable Saturday".

Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale on April 25, killing over 6,500 people and injuring more than 14,000 and rendering countless homeless.

The death toll is expected to go up to 10,000, as per Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.

A resident of Gyaneshwor, a comparatively posh locality with a sizable population, Upadhaya lives with her husband and mother-in-law, who was on the top floor of their two and a half-storey house at that time.

"I was sleeping when suddenly the bed started shaking violently. I somehow managed to hold on to a chair in the room and just sat down clasping on to it," her mother-in-law, Damayanti, 81, told IANS.

Rattled by the jolt, the Upadhayas and their neighbours ran outside and stayed there for over three hours.Her husband, Phanindra Upadhyaya, a professor at Pokhara University, was conducting a workshop when the earthquake struck.

He and his students ran out of the classroom when the walls started shaking. "It was only after an hour and a half that I could talk to Sudha at home, Phanindra Upadhaya, 60, told IANS. "My car was jumping two feet up and down from the ground. Never have I seen such a thing happening," he said.

Later, the family took turns sleeping in their car parked inside the garage for two nights as "it was too unsafe to even think of stepping inside the house".

The family is thankful that they survived the quake but showed concern for all the quake victims in the country. Phanindra said that the wall of the house across the road had collapsed during the quake and and a driver was crushed to death.

This is the saga of most of the Nepalese who have gone through the ordeal and have had no such experience before. The last major disaster that had struck this small country was in 1934.

For nearly a week, people of this Himalayan country have been sleeping out in tents, braving the chill and rain that accompanied the quake. "We were too afraid to go back," a resident said, adding "The jolt was so intense that even today I feel the earth is shaking all the time".

 

 

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