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Trekkers from Dubai narrate lessons learnt from the earthquake

Muaz Shabandri - Reporter / 2 May 2015

Dubai — Landing at Nepal’s International Airport was the first stop for a group of trekkers from Dubai who were planning to ascend the Everest base camp. But the 7.8 magnitude earthquake jolted the group within half an hour of their landing in Nepal.

A team of students and academics from Dubai’s Murdoch University and Global Institute Middle East (GIMEL) recollected the horror of finding their way back to Dubai after being stuck in Nepal for two days.

Rakesh Wahi, Vice-Chairman and Co-Founder of GIMEL and Chris Pilgrim, Senior Vice-President, Business Development and Special Projects, GIMEL, led the team. The Everest Base Camp Trek crew consisted of four staff and three students — Hu Xiao, a Chinese student who studies Finance and Marketing; Maria D’Costa, an Indian student doing IT; and Ahmed Al Saidy, an Egyptian student doing Journalism at Murdoch University Dubai.

The first earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale hit within 30 minutes of the team’s landing in Kathmandu Airport on Saturday, April 25.

Recollecting the moment, Chris said: “The quake lasted for almost a minute which is a very long time for an earthquake to last. The entire airport infrastructure shook violently and we could see smoke bellowing from everywhere as neighbouring buildings, historical monuments and temples collapsed.”

The team immediately headed to the Tibet Guest House in two cars when the first earthquake hit. One of the drivers got a call that his family was in danger, and he immediately drove the car into a garage in a clustered village abandoning the team. Several hours later the team managed to regroup with the others at the hotel with the help of another driver.

Once the gravity of the situation was understood, the entire team worked feverishly on finding a way out, establishing reliable communication, and more importantly ensuring the safety of the team. (Contd)

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