Scotland

Scots caught up in Nepal earthquake aftermath

Jacqueline Toal Image copyright Other (family pic)
Image caption Jacqueline Toal's father said he had spoken to his daughter on the phone

A number of Scots are known to have been caught up in the Nepal earthquake and subsequent avalanches which hit the Everest region.

James Grieve, 52, from Kinross became trapped on Mount Everest along with four others from the UK.

Another two men - Joseph Feeney and Calum Henderson - on a trekking trip to Nepal were "safe but stranded".

A woman from Glasgow, initially reported missing, has been located and has been in contact with her family.

Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in the earthquake and avalanches, which have been described as the worst to hit Nepal in more than 80 years.

Five junior Scottish Fire and Rescue Service officers from Aberdeen are to be deployed to Nepal to help with the recovery operation as part of the International Search and Rescue Service.

'Very worried'

Jacqueline Toal, aged 34, from Glasgow, was travelling in Nepal and was listed as missing on a Red Cross database set up in the aftermath of the disaster.

Her father, Philip Toal, said the family were very worried, as they hadn't been in contact with her after news of the earthquake broke.

But after her family posted a message on Facebook to say she was missing, Ms Toal got back in touch with them via text to confirm she was ok.

He told the BBC: "I was trying not to panic. But when that text came through there was just elation. We'd heard conflicting stories about where the epicentre was so we didn't really know what to believe."

He said initially she didn't know what was happening: "She said the ground shook and then within 10 or 15 seconds it got worse and worse and then at that point she realised it was an earthquake.

"But it seemed to be over very, very quickly and fortunately she was ok. The building that they were in hadn't been damaged in any way."

Mr Toal said the main problem now was that due to the remoteness of the Pokhara Lakes region where Ms Toal is staying, she was finding it very difficult to get information about where in the country was safe to be.

He said: "We're still very worried. She's not out of the woods by any means. There was another earthquake this morning, and without the information she needs to travel she could be stuck there for a wee while yet."

'Cut off'

Mr Grieve, an engineer who works in Kazakhstan said his group, who were on a Help for Heroes climb, "lucky to survive" the avalanche on Mount Everest.

Speaking to the Sun newspaper, he said they been cut off from their base camp, and that there was "no way down".

Image copyright APF/Getty
Image caption The base camp at the foot of Everest was devastated by an avalanche triggered by the earthquake

Mr Grieve managed to contact his partner Shirley McGhie shortly after the avalanche hit, to let her know he was safe.

"He said they were in their tents before the avalanche hit," Ms McGhie said. "They were warned to put their ice picks in the ground and hold on as tight as they could.

"He found it difficult to breathe and when it was over they just tried to get some shelter and get some tents erected.

"As time is going on you are aware of the scale of the disaster caused and with the after shocks you don't know the effect that's going to have on the mountain."

She is now hoping for news of a rescue operation and of their safe return.

Medical students, Mr Feeney, from Coatbridge, and Mr Henderson, from Edinburgh, had travelled to Nepal as a treat after passing their third year exams.

Image caption Friends Joseph Feeney and Calum Henderson have been stranded in Nepal following the disaster

They are both aged 21 and studying at Aberdeen University.

Mr Feeney's father, Dr James Feeney told BBC Scotland that the two were currently with another group, sheltering in what's called a teahouse. They were being cared for by their Sherpa.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Dr Feeney said: "They say this teahouse is mobbed to the rafters with people coming off the mountain. They've been given hospitality by the locals and their guide.

"The guide was really worried because his family are in Kathmandu. Apparently his family are all well, but his house was demolished - completely flattened by the earthquake."

'Counting our blessings'

He continued: "The boys have been told that they're really lucky because another couple of days and they would have been further up the mountain and they wouldn't have got back down. The landslide would have blocked them off.

"But they're fine, they're just a bit shook up. They're just wondering how they're going to get home."

"The village where they're staying is all single storey buildings so hopefully they're quite safe there.

"Looking at the TV screens and seeing what could have happened to them, me and my wife, we're just counting our blessings - Thank God."

It is thought that Mr Feeney and Mr Henderson are somewhere between the villages of Senwa and Pokhara. They had been en route to the Annapurna base camp, in the Himalayas when the earthquake hit.

The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), meanwhile, is appealing to Scots to donate whatever they can to help survivors.

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) has released an emergency number +44 (0) 207 008 0000 for British nationals needing consular assistance.

It also says it has offered assistance to local authorities and has advised British nationals in the area to stay "in a place of safety".

The search engine Google has launched a website to help locate those caught up in the disaster.

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