Nepal trekker Laurie Gerhardt criticises UK rescue response

Laurie Gerhardt Image copyright Sue Gerhardt
Image caption Laurie Gerhardt waited six days for help from the Foreign Office before embarking on a "dangerous" trek to Kathmandu

A man who was trapped on a mountain by the Nepalese earthquake has said the Foreign Office response was "rubbish".

Laurie Gerhardt, from Oxford, said he and other British nationals watched as other foreign tourists were airlifted to safety.

He claimed "desperate" telephone calls to the British embassy in Kathmandu were unanswered and the only advice from the UK was "sit tight".

The Foreign Office said its teams had been working around the clock in Nepal.

Mr Gerhardt was trekking in the Langtang National Park region when the earthquake struck.

He and friend Joe Butchers, also from Oxford, watched the lodge they were approaching "crumble" in front of them.

'No-one's coming'

The pair, along with about a dozen other British people, camped on the mountain for six days waiting for help.

Talking to BBC Radio Oxford, Mr Gerhardt said the British government's response to the disaster was "rubbish".

"All other tourists managed to speak to their embassies and collaborate with insurance agencies to organise rescue helicopters to get them," the 24-year-old said.

But he said the British citizens "got no response".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Aftermath of a landslide in a village in Langtang region of Nepal

Eventually his group made the decision to make the "dangerous walk" down the mountain to Kathmandu, four hours away.

They had to "scramble" over 20ft high (6m) landslides that blocked paths and roads.

He said: "We had planned to stay put, but Nepali police and Army were quite dismissive about it and said no-one's coming for you."

When the earthquake struck Mr Gerhardt feared "the whole mountainside was going to break off and we were going to plunge to our deaths".

He said: "I was sitting there thinking it's very likely that I'm going to die. Now I'm just happy to be alive."

When he eventually got through to the Foreign Office in the UK, the only advice he got was to "stick tight", he said.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said British teams had been working "tirelessly" to help British nationals, including arranging air lifts.

He said: "The government is providing funding for additional UN helicopters to assist the response and will continue to provide assistance to British nationals, working closely with the Nepalese authorities, as required."

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