UK

Nepal earthquake: Families 'dizzy with relief' as missing Brits found

Rescue helicopter Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rescue helicopters have airlifted scores of people stranded at high altitudes in Nepal

The families of some of the Britons who had been missing in the aftermath of Nepal's earthquake have spoken of their relief at learning their loved ones are safe.

Officials have helped more than 250 British nationals and a further 583 "either have left the country or are not in the country or are accounted for and safe in the country", according to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

The BBC is aware of about 38 British or Irish families who are still waiting to hear from relatives.

Those already found safe and well include:

Clive and Heather Wilkinson from Bedfordshire

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Clive and Heather Wilkinson had been travelling in Nepal for three weeks when disaster struck

A week before the earthquake hit, Bedfordshire firefighter Clive Wilkinson, 55, and his wife Heather, 41, were posting photos on Facebook from the centre of Kathmandu.

His sister Karen Wilkinson Bell told the BBC that the couple, who had been in Nepal for three weeks, had been "right in the centre, where all the buildings and so on have been completely destroyed".

On Saturday, Mr Wilkinson phoned his sister to tell her he was safe, but she then heard nothing for three days. Fearing he had been caught in an aftershock, she looked for him online "everywhere".

She told the BBC: "We heard about the aftershocks and the avalanches and for the last two days we've been really worried."

When she finally received a voicemail from Mr Wilkinson saying he was ok, but needed to be airlifted out, she felt immediate relief but "continued concern that it isn't quite over yet".

Despite contacting the embassy in Kathmandu, she said: "We don't have any coordinates...we don't actually know where they are.

"But Clive's a firefighter - he's extremely used to working in emergencies and sounded level headed about where they were and what they were doing."

Laurie Gerhardt from Oxford

Image copyright Sue Gerhardt
Image caption Laurie Gerhardt has been told it is 'too dangerous' to leave the survivors' camp

Sue Gerhardt from Oxford told the BBC that a message from her son Laurie, 24, who was trekking in Nepal when the earthquake hit, made her "feel dizzy".

Having heard nothing for more than two days, Mrs Gerhardt said: "It's such a relief. We're hoping the Foreign Office will put some resources into getting people out of there."

Her son, who was trekking with his friend Joe Butchers, managed to borrow a mobile phone to call his parents from a survivors' camp south of the Sagarmatha National Park, which is dominated by Mount Everest.

Mrs Gerhardt said: "There is quite a lot of activity, about 500 people in this camp.

"It was a very short conversation and that is really all I know - that he's there. They have been told it is far too dangerous to travel because of the aftershocks and the condition of the roads and so on. So I think he is going to be stuck in this camp for several days.

"But at least he is safe and we assume that is a relatively safe place."

Gareth Douglas from Shropshire

Image copyright Gareth Douglas
Image caption Gareth Douglas was due to start climbing Everest on Saturday

The father of climber Gareth Douglas, 37, of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, said his son was in "good spirits" after being stranded at Mount Everest's north base camp.

Steve Douglas, from Albrighton, Shropshire, said his son was with a team attempting the north face and was due to start climbing on Saturday when the earthquake struck.

Mr Douglas told the BBC: "He said there were rocks crashing around (them)... He said there were boulders the size of cars coming within a very short distance of them, 100 metres or so. He's stressing they were very, very lucky."

Having survived the disaster, his son has left Everest and is trying to make his way to Kathmandu - along with three others, including a medic - to help with the relief effort.

Lewis Joryeff from Devon

Image caption Susan and David Joryeff said son Lewis will have to trek his way off the mountain

David and Susan Joryeff have had news that their son Lewis, along with his wife Laura and her brother Mark, are safe.

Mrs Joryeff told the BBC that the trio, who were near Mount Everest when it was hit by avalanches, were "all OK" but "very tired".

She said: "They've got another four days trekking on top of what they would have had, and they've got no rest periods, but it's the safest way to get off the mountain.

"They're going to be a bit tired when they get home."

Nora Arscott from Devon

Nora Arscott, 76, from Chudleigh, Devon, who was travelling in Nepal when the earthquake struck, is safe, her family told the BBC.

Her granddaughter, Claire Watson, from Kingsteignton, said waiting for news was "the worst 24 hours of my life".

She added: "Knowing she is safe is the biggest relief ever."

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