Nepal earthquake: Student feared family killed

Bimu Sharma is worried about her family in Nepal. Picture: Greg Macvean

Bimu Sharma is worried about her family in Nepal. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A STUDENT in the Capital has told of her torment amid fears her entire family was killed in the Nepal earthquake.

Bimu Sharma said she suffered a 12-hour ordeal after news of the devastating quake broke, when it was not known whether any of her close ­relatives had survived.

The 26-year-old, who is studying for an MSc in international health at Queen Margaret University (QMU), has also expressed distress at the destruction wrought in her home town of Lalitpur – renowned as the site of internationally significant monuments and temples.

More than 7800 people were killed and thousands more left homeless by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which ripped through Nepal on April 25 in what was the impoverished Himalayan nation’s deadliest disaster in 80 years.

Ms Sharma said: “It was a very scary time. We could do little more than pray for my family’s safety.

“Problems with phone networks added to the delay but I was relieved to finally find out they had survived. They had to stay in camp and were only allowed to return to their home to collect their belongings after nine days.

“However, their house is unsafe, so they are homeless and finding another place to live in the middle of such destruction is extremely difficult.”

She said her young brother, Binit, had been left traumatised.

“My brother, who is just 12, was so scared during the earthquake,” she said. “He was shocked when he saw the house and scared to be in it because it was unsafe. He had viewed the most devastating moment of his life and my mother could not stop him ­crying.

“When I eventually managed to speak to him, he said that the places that we used to play – the temples and monuments – everything had been destroyed.”

She added: “People watched helplessly as their homes and towns collapsed around them. Many have now been left fatherless, motherless or childless.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch.”

Fellow students and staff at QMU have confirmed they will hold an awareness event on Thursday to raise funds for those affected.

Most of the money will go towards supporting QMU’s Nepali students and counterparts at the Silver Mountain School of Hotel Management in Kathmandu, which is the university’s partner institution.

Oonagh O’Brien, lecturer at QMU’s Institute for International Health and Development, said: “We are hearing harrowing accounts every day from our friends and students in Nepal about the impact the disaster is having on their communities.

“It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the catastrophe and to know how best to provide appropriate help, but everyone at the University is keen to get involved and do something positive to ­support.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com