Thursday 27 October 2016

'I saw an American climber standing over the dead body of his girlfriend'


Paul Devaney, pictured at Everest base camp the evening before the earthquake
Paul Devaney, pictured at Everest base camp the evening before the earthquake

SURROUNDED by bodies and the screams of the wounded, terrified Irish climber Paul Devaney (inset) knows he is lucky to be alive.

The experienced climber, from Longford, was one of several Irish people caught up in the aftermath of the avalanche on Mount Everest triggered by a devastating earthquake in Nepal on Saturday.

Mr Devaney (37), was part of a group of climbers at base camp when they were hit by a massive wall of snow that killed 17 people.

So far, the earthquake has claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 people, with one Irishman still missing.

Mr Devaney said the group ducked for cover anywhere they could find when the avalanche struck.

"After it had settled down and the shock had gone away, we came out of the tent and realised that compared with the rest of the camp we had only got a bit of a dusting," he told the Herald.

"The rest of the camp was like a plane crash. There were tents blasted away, there were bodies and there were wounded everywhere."

Mr Devaney said the horror of what he had seen after the incident convinced him never to never return to Everest.

"I saw a fellow expedition climber from America standing over the dead body of his girlfriend," he said. "It was a pretty horrific couple of days."

Mr Devaney was travelling with a group of eight climbers and a Nepalese trekking company.

He was joined by Paul Greenan (38), from Dublin, who was injured in the avalanche but has now been cleared to return home in the next 24 hours.

Since the devastating incident, the group have now relocated to Pheriche, where they plan to stay for several days.

Immediately after the avalanche, Mr Devaney immediately got on the satellite phone to his brothers and girlfriend to tell them he was okay.

He spoke of how he and the group were now settling in a "barn house", unable to sleep due to ongoing tremors.

"Every sound is another potential avalanche," he said, adding that he wasn't going to leave the country but wants to stay on and help with the relief effort.

"I'm in the middle of a rescue and recovery operation and I have seen sights that I will remember for the rest of my life," he said.

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