A couple who survived an earthquake in Nepal said they just want to help the ‘lovely, happy’ people they met on their travels.
Martin and Gillian Blanchard, from Plumpton Green, were preparing to leave Nepal just as the earthquake hit on April 25.
They told the Middy of their terror as they escaped their hotel and were thrown into the air by the force of the quake.
Martin said: “The earthquake was the day we were supposed to be coming back.
“We were due to check out at 12pm. I was reading the Himalayan News and my wife had gone down to check out.
“She had been given the bill and was entering the four digit pin when the lights flashed. The guy taking the money stopped.
I honestly didn’t know what was happening.Martin Blanchard
“He was obviously feeling tremors in the ground. My wife said he stared into her eyes. Then he ran saying, ‘out, out everyone get out’.
“The chandeliers were starting to wobble.
“We ran down about a dozen steps. We got on to level ground at the bottom and it was really starting to shake. The noise was like a jumbo jet taking off.
“We got to the bottom of the step and both Gill and I were thrown about eight or nine feet forwards landing face down.
“We heard crashing and banging behind us. We didn’t know then but Gill had broken three ribs and we both had cuts and grazes.
“I honestly didn’t know what was happening.”
The couple described the moment the earthquake hit as ‘horrific’.
Martin said he tried to support his wife as they struggled to get away from the building.
“It was so dusty. I couldn’t see anything for the dust and debris. We thought ‘we have got to move’.
“Everyone was running and screaming. The earth was still rocking and moving.
“The noise was terrifying. There was crashing and banging – debris from the roof came down just where we had been thrown moments before.”
After the debris settled, the couple were taken to a hospital where they managed to borrow a satellite phone to contact family back in the UK.
“There was no electricity. There were little aftershocks. We knew the building was more stable.
“It was a bit calmer because the building was more modern.”
The trekking company looking after Martin and Gill arranged for them to be taken to a hotel closer to the airport.
But on arrival the pair realised the hotel, which had ‘swayed’ during the earthquake, was still standing despite huge cracks around the stairwell and walls.
“We managed to wash our hands and faces, but we were too scared to have a shower,” said Martin.
“But then the phone rang and they asked us to come down into the garden straight away.”
The couple and hotel guests prepared themselves to spend a night outside, but because Gill was injured, they were offered a car to sleep in.
The hotel guests slept outside, seeking shelter when it rained but panicked whenever the ground trembled.
The couple flew out of Nepal landing back in the UK last week.
“It was just a holiday that my wife had booked as a big holiday away.
“We joined it all with my retirement – the day we left was my last working day. We had also just heard we were going to be grandparents.”
They spent a few nights in Kathmandu, before flying down to Pekara where they embarked on a trek around Nepalese villages – covering up to 13 miles each day.
They even braved the journey back to the capital by road, where just days prior, pilgrims on a bus had been involved in a tragic accident.
Martin said: “The people are so lovely, it is quite hard to imagine what they are going through.
“The children were so bright-eyed and happy – it was so lovely to see.
“They are the nicest, loveliest, happy people and they are so happy with what they have got – which isn’t very much. We just want to be back trying to help.”