Nepal Earthquake: Lothians residents contact home

Darren Smith and Fiona Lamont. Picture: comp
Darren Smith and Fiona Lamont. Picture: comp
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Four Lothians residents believed missing following the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal have contacted family to confirm they are safe.

Couple Darren Alexander Smith, 27, and Fiona Lamont, 26, managed to get a message out despite being stranded in an area where all communications have been knocked out.

And Seobhan McGuigan from Dalkeith and partner Brian Allen, both 41, had to be rescued by Gurkha soldiers, and were said to be “badly shaken” by relatives after they finally made contact yesterday.

A couple from Dalkeith told family they were in a cafe when the deadly quake struck, tearing a huge crater in the floor.

Brian and Seobhan Allan, 41, hid under a table in the Kathmandu cafe as debris fell around them, and were later helped to safety by Gurkhas. They had been on a round-the-world adventure when they were caught up in the drama.

Brian’s mother Mary, 68, said they had phoned to say they were still alive.

She said: “They were lucky to survive. The two of them were absolutely terrified. I’m so glad they are safe - I just want them home for a hug.

“They said the cafe roof started falling and the owner shouted to get under the table, but the ground opened up. They then had to run out into the street.

“They were trying to stay upbeat because they’re so thankful to be OK.”

Brian, a technician at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, and Seobhan, a birdspotter for Scottish Natural Heritage, were set to leave Nepal tomorrow.

A nationwide televised appeal will be broadcast on five channels today, as the death toll from the magnitude 7.8 quake tops 4000.

Emergency aid and expert rescue teams dispatched from across the world have begun to arrive in Nepal, with seven search and rescue crews carrying more than 11 tonnes of kit from the UK landing on Sunday.

All 12 Scots who appeared on the 90-strong list of British and Irish-born individuals missing in Nepal compiled by the International Committee of the Red Cross are now believed to have been found safe and well.

Mr Smith was able to contact Ms Lamont’s father, Norman, who lives in South Queensferry, by text on Monday, and told him it would take another three days to evacuate to the Nepali capital Kathmandu. E-learning consultant Mr Lamont, who had been waiting anxiously for news since the quake struck on Saturday, told the Evening News: “They’re in an area that has no telecommunications. I think they borrowed a phone.

“I got just one text, with a warning that they’re going to be out of communication for about three days while they try and get back to Kathmandu.

“But they’re safe and well, which is a huge relief. There’s no more information than that.”

He earlier tweeted: “Hard to describe feelings over 48h.”

Sheigra McGuigan also told media yesterday that her sister had been in touch.

She said: “Seobhan had texted my mum on Saturday about a Unesco World Heritage site they had visited previously. Twenty minutes after the text, the earthquake hit – it was shocking.

“We heard from them this morning after they had been saved by Gurkhas. They spoke to my mum on a satellite phone at the Gurkha camp they have been taken to. She said they sounded in shock and were repeating themselves, sounding like they were badly shaken.

“We were all so relieved to hear from them because we were so worried.”

An appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee will be broadcast on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky today. Edinburgh-based aid charity Mercy Corps has already launched its own appeal to help fund its emergency response, providing blankets, cooking equipment, clothing and bottled water to camps.