Monday 24 October 2016

'I covered my head and neck and waited' - Dublin aid worker Jack caught up in Nepal earthquake


Jack Hogan
Jack Hogan
Catherine Jordan

Aftershocks and severely disrupted communications are hampering the rescue efforts in Nepal after a massive earthquake shook the region, killing more than 2,500 people.

There are around 100 Irish nationals in the affected area, and efforts to contact them have been slow because of the scale of the destruction.

Ranelagh native Jack Hogan, who works with the Umbrella Foundation rescuing trafficked children, was 70km away from the epicentre.

"I was actually at home playing my guitar in my flat not far from our base when the quake hit at 11.55am on Saturday," he said. "At first I wasn't sure what was going on but soon realised it was an earthquake, so I followed the protocol of covering my head and the back of my neck and waited until it was over, which was about 30 seconds later.

"I went outside and I could see how older and poorly-constructed buildings had fallen, and a temple on the hill had collapsed."

Jack made his way to the Umbrella base and now he and around 10 adults and 50 children from there are sleeping in a playground in the open.

"We have no electricity but have food and water to last a few days. Around 50 feet from us a building collapsed and killed two people," he said.

A group of climbing enthusiasts from Courtown, Co Wexford, had just arrived in Nepal when the quake hit. They had planned to travel to base camp at Everest but had not reached there when it became engulfed.


One of the climbers is Catherine Jordan (61), whose son Keith described his relief that she is safe.

"They had only landed when she texted me to say there had been an earthquake but they were safe," he told the Herald.

"I didn't know how bad it was until news started to filter through, and now we can see the extent of how serious the situation is.

"They are now staying in a garden because they can't use the building because of the fear of aftershocks, and they have no power so communication is difficult and I have had to organise flights home for them on Wednesday."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said an emergency team will remain in place for "as long as necessary to assist citizens who may be affected and their families".

The Department is aware of some 100 citizens in the affected area. Contact has already been established with many of them.

Anyone concerned about Irish relatives in the region can contact the department on 01 418 0200.

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