WORLD

Nepal quake: Passengers shove and trip over each other as they flee airport terminal

By 안성미
  • Published : Apr 26, 2015 - 15:21
  • Updated : Apr 26, 2015 - 15:30

 It was noon and my girlfriend and I were at the Tribhuvan International Airport's boarding gate 3 for our flight from Kathmandu to Kuala Lumpur, when the terminal building began to shake.

I thought initially that the commotion was due to a plane taking off nearby. But the sounds got louder and the glass windows of the building rattled violently.

As bits of the ceiling began to fall, the waiting passengers started to panic and flee the building. Some of the passengers tripped over one another as they ran. A group of men smashed open a window for a quick exit.

When we realized it was an earthquake, my girlfriend Andrea Heng and I ran for the exit, too, but we were caught in a jam.
 

Dhany Osman, a sub-editor with The Straits Times, was in Nepal with his girlfriend. They were waiting for their flight to Kuala Lumpur when the quake struck on Saturday, April 25, 2015. Passengers shoved and rushed out of the terminal at Tribhuvan International Airport. (Dhany Osman/The Straits Times)
I tried telling people around us to calm down but everyone kept shoving one another to get out. So we found a corner to wait until the crowd cleared, along with two elderly tourists.

After a minute or so, the tremors subsided. By then, many passengers and the ground crew were outside the terminal building, on the tarmac.

After a while, many of them went back into the terminal building, but they ran out again whenever there was an aftershock.

Andrea and I chose to stay on the tarmac, nipping in quickly to use the toilet and back out again.

There was a lot of dust floating about outside the terminal building following the quake, and every 10 to 15 minutes, we would feel an aftershock, which sent people into a tizzy again.

Two hours after the quake, at 2 p.m., there was still no information on the status of outgoing flights. However, a few flights from Yeti Airlines began landing, each to applause from the people around.

At 2:10 p.m., we were asked to board our plane, the reason being that it would be more comfortable for us on the aircraft.

One of our fellow passengers was Australian actress Brittni Giles, 27, who was in Nepal working on a documentary on motorcycle trekking.


Debris left behind at Nepal`s Tribhuvan International Airport following a 7.9-magnitude earthquake on April 25, 2015. (Dhany Osman/The Straits Times)

She told me: "My friend and I were waiting in the corridor of the airport leading to the tarmac when we felt the earth rumbling beneath our feet. We could hear cracks forming in the building, followed by people screaming and running out onto the tarmac.

"I used to live in Japan so I'm quite familiar with earthquakes. I looked up at the hills and saw all the dust and realized it must have been a pretty big one.

"My friends are still in the city (Kathmandu) and they are all right. They are helping to pull people out of the rubble."

This was my first trip to Nepal and I had been looking forward to visiting this Shangri-La in a mountain valley with Andrea.

We spent two days in Kathmandu, visiting the Durbar squares; enjoying the chaos of Thamel, a backpackers' haunt; wandering through the streets of the ancient city of Bhaktapur; and enjoying the local food - lots of dahl bat.

We also did a five-day trek in the Himalayas.

Along the way, we got to see how the Nepali people lived. Most of those we met were soft-spoken, humble folk, including our guide Diwan Gaire, 26, who took care of us.

Businesses were run in a welcoming, laid-back fashion, with minimal touting.

I wish the people of Nepal strength as they recover from this tragedy, and hope they receive the aid they need to do so.

By Dhany Osman
(The Straits Times)