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Surviving Dharara

Thursday, April 30th, 2015
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Shobha Sharma in Setopati, 29 April

On the fifth floor of the National Trauma Center, 17-year-old Ramila Shrestha and her friend Sanjeev Shrestha lie next to each other in the same ward. Ramila with a fractured leg and Sanjeev with a fractured arm. Both of them, survivors of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit central Nepal completely demolishing Dharara.

Photo: setopati.com

Photo: setopati.com

Ramila came to Kathmandu two months ago from Ramechhap to help her father Deepak Shrestha with his shop in Kirtipur. Sanjeev, a native of Bhimpokhari, was living with his sister-in-law at Basantapur. Ever since reading about Dharara at school, Ramila had wanted to climb the country’s tallest tower. So, on Saturday the two set out to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Kathmandu before going to the movies at Guna Cinema Hall.

Excited about her first visit, she walked ahead of her friend while stopping to look out the circular windows along the stairs. The two had just stepped out into the balcony when the tower started tottering. From the ground people started shouting “earthquake”. Ramila remembers Sanjeev sitting down while she held on tightly to the railings as the structure came crashing down. Next thing she remembers, she was lying flat on the rubble with her friend a little further away. The railing she had held on to crushed a mother and her daughter.

“If I hadn’t been thrown off, I would have been dead too,” says Ramila who was rescued by a policeman nearby. Sanjeev remembers waking up in front of Bir Hospital.

 

“Five minutes after I got out of Dharahara, the tower collapsed.”

Nakul Basnet in Kantipur, 27 April

I had never climbed Dharahara and had never planned on doing it either. However on Saturday, on my way to a friend’s birthday in Thamel, I got off at Shahid Gate. Checked my watch, saw that I had some time left and decided I would climb up the famous tower.

There were six people ahead of me. When I got on top, the sky was dark and the view was not clear. The balcony looked unsafe. Too scared to look down and with nothing else to do, I decided to go down.

More people were climbing up the Dharahara when I was descending. I noticed that a lot of them were young people and women.

Within 15 minutes I  had made the journey up and down the Dharahara. I was at Tundikhel when the earthquake hit. People from New Road gate and nearby areas soon started flowing into the parade ground.

Immediately I looked at Dharahara, it was gone. I could not believe that I was inside the tower just five minutes ago and now all that left of it were rubbles.

When I went back to my office at Singha Durbar where I work as a migration officer, my colleagues kept reminding me how lucky I was.

That evening I camped at Bhrikutimandap. I couldn’t sleep all night. I couldn’t stop thinking of the day’s events. The question- what would have happened if I had not left on time keep bothering me. I keep thinking about the Dharahara more than the earthquake, I think of it every time I see an old house.

 

Tower of grief

Raj Kumar Dikpal in Annapurna Post, 29 April

It was a day of reunion. Pitamber Tigela of Tehrathum was out with his long-time friend, retired Singaporean Police Yam Bahadur Limbu. Tigela, his wife Budhamaya, son Pravin, niece Kaushila, nephew Sanju and Limbu were sightseeing at Dharahara when a 7.8M earthquake hit central Nepal bringing down the nine-storey structure.

All six died.

Limbu was set to return home to Singapore on Monday after a six month vacation in Nepal. His son and wife are still in Singapore.

Tigela’s niece Kaushila was studying to be a nurse. She was dead by the time she was dug out.

“They said they’d come back after the trip but what came instead was bad news,” said Kaushila’s father, Tek Raj Tigela.

All six of them were cremated at Aryaghat on Tuesday. Relatives decided to cremate both Tigela and his wife on the same pyre.

“This is the first time I have seen both husband and wife being cremated on the same pyre,” said Tharkadeep Tigela who is related to Tek Raj.

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One Response to “Surviving Dharara”

  1. Tashi Lama on Says:

    It breaks my heart to read these stories of tragic end. When the tremor struck at 11.56 I was at the fourth floor, first there was was slight movement and then suddenly it started shaking strongly and everything was falling down, we are five in the room, I checked for the safer place to hide but as there are no cracks seen, we all remained near the door and started praying and then shaking subsided, we then ran down wards for safety. But still many feel doubtful and fear going back to home, moreover the rumors keeps on spreading and people believes that. However, the point here is that no one can predict the after shocks and death itself is uncertain and unpredictable, as we all know that no one predicted the tragic day of 2015 April 25th 11.56 am, now I think all these worries are just created by doubt and fear of death, but the fact here is that when the death comes, it comes without any warning and there is no escape from death, after birth comes death, better not to worry as it helps for nothing but better help others and pray for those who are no more with us now, it is worth of thinking.

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