Tyne & Wear

Nepal earthquake: British man describes his escape

Kathmandu, Nepal earthquake Image copyright Chris Berriman
Image caption Saturday's earthquake in Nepal killed more than 6,000 people

A British man has described how he escaped Nepal's devastating earthquake.

Chris Berriman, 56, from Morpeth in Northumberland, was due to climb Everest and was one of the first UK nationals to escape the country.

He was in a bookshop in Kathmandu when the ground began to shake and the room started swaying. He "knew what it was straight away", he said.

Mr Berriman captured images of Saturday's quake which has so far killed more than 6,000 people.

Image copyright Chris Berriman
Image caption "I tried to walk but ended up walking sideways, I watched large cracks appear on the walls around me," Mr Berriman said.
Image copyright Chris Berriman
Image caption "I staggered out into the streets when the quake passed, the streets are narrow with tall buildings so there was debris falling everywhere," he said. "My legs were shaking, I sat on the kerb and called my wife, then the first aftershock came."
Image caption Chris Berriman had a lifelong ambition to climb Everest

Mr Berriman said: "I was in the centre of Kathmandu when the quake struck. I had only been there a few hours.

"I was in a bookshop at the time and knew immediately it was an earthquake. I knew I needed to get out, but I was being knocked sideways as I walked to the door.

"I could see the buildings outside and the pavements cracking and people just running around in panic.

"I dropped to one knee, thinking that if the bookshop started to collapse I would be safer where I was under the door frame. It was like some sort of survival instinct kicked in.

Image copyright Chris Berriman
Image caption "I looked back and the building where I had been sitting was covered in massive cracks."
Image copyright Chris Berriman

"In reality, it probably only lasted a minute or two and the I went out and walked down the street for a bit and sat on a kerb because my legs were absolutely shaking.

"I managed to call my wife Nicki and tell her I was OK. But I had to hang up quickly because we were suddenly hit by an aftershock and realised I had to find a more open space. So I started to work northwards and found a wide road where some other people were gathered.

"For the past few years I've had a bit of an obsession to go up Everest. I booked the trip, got there on Friday, but was back by Sunday evening.

"I was lucky. I had a great tour guide who got me to the airport and I managed to get on what I think was the first flight back to the UK.

"But even though I did everything right, I feel deep down that it was luck more than anything that got me out."

Image copyright Chris Berriman
Image caption "The next morning I got to the airport, there were queues stretching back for half a mile. Once inside, there were so many people that I felt afraid. If something happened there, I wouldn't have stood a chance. I queued for four hours, got my ticket and then waited outside where I felt safer."
Image copyright Chris Berriman
Image caption "I boarded the plane, took off and felt so strange to be flying away from it all. I got to Dhaka then on to Doha, to Heathrow and then on to Newcastle. I was home by 22:00 Monday night."

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