Northern Ireland

Portrush man describes devastation of Nepal earthquake

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Media captionBarry Torrens said another 'major concern' was a lack of water in Kathmandu, as Will Leitch reports

A County Antrim man trekking in Nepal has described the devastation that he witnessed after the country's deadliest earthquake for more than 80 years.

More than 2,000 people were killed on Saturday.

The 7.8 magnitude quake struck an area of central Nepal between the capital, Kathmandu, and the city of Pokhara.

Barry Torrens, from Portrush, said his party were crossing a river when the earthquake struck.

"It was a tremendous rumble and the local guides were quite concerned. It was a very guttural shake underneath the feet, the top of the mountain started to fall down onto the highway - rocks and bricks and half the mountain started to come down into the river," he said.

'Devastation'

"We stepped onto the other river bank, they brought out their mobile phones - the lead guide and the second in command, their houses had been destroyed as quick as that.

"We made our way back to Kathmandu and it was just a scene of devastation the whole way through."

Mr Torrens said buildings they had been in earlier that day were gone when they returned to their hotel.

"We left this morning at 10 o'clock to go on the trek and bought lunch from a shop on the corner from our hotel," he said.

"That shop is no longer there, the whole corner of our block just dropped."

Image copyright Barry Torrens
Image caption Mr Torrens described a scene of devastation as his party returned to Kathmandu

He said his thoughts were with the local people affected by the disaster.

"It's the Nepali people - who are a lovely, lovely people - that we feel for. They just don't have the infrastructure to deal with this at all," Mr Torrens said.

"It's irrelevant what happens to us, we will be safe. It's an absolutely devastating tragedy for the Nepalese."

He said it was "quite a shock" on Sunday afternoon when a second earthquake hit.

"We could see the dust of buildings collapsing around us," he said.

Lack of water

Image copyright Facebook pic with permission
Image caption Amy Webster told the Derry Journal there had been a succession of avalanches following the earthquake and a major aftershock.

"From where we were, at that stage within about 75 metres, there was about six or seven buildings totally destroyed.

He said another "major concern" was a lack of water.

"A lot of smaller shops have no water and when I went out to see if I could help I found gangs of young fellas unfortunately looking for water and that's when I said to my sister Leslie that we have to head to the British embassy to see if we can get somewhere safe," he said.

"They're expecting some more tremors later this evening.

"All the electricity is off in Kathmandu and the city itself is in pitch darkness.

"Only a number of buildings, including the British embassy who have powerful generators, are able to give us some light so all our telecommunications have run out of charge, we can't charge them up so I was unable to tell my wife and children that I was safe and sound since the earthquake happened over 24 hours ago."

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Dublin has said it is aware that around 50 Irish citizens are in Nepal.

A Londonderry woman has described missing avalanches near an Everest base camp on Saturday and Sunday.

Amy Webster told the Derry Journal newspaper that she and her boyfriend narrowly avoiding the initial massive avalanche, as her boyfriend had taken ill and they had been forced to turn back.

"There is just devastation everywhere and from what we are hearing there are 30 people dead at base camp," she told the newspaper.

"Everyone is trying to get away from base camp - there has been four to five avalanches today alone."

There were also victims in India, Bangladesh, Tibet and on Mount Everest, where avalanches were triggered.

The government has declared a state of emergency in the affected areas, and help has been offered by countries around the world.

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