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Nepalese students reflect on quake

BEN OLSEN | Scroll Illustration

BEN OLSEN | Scroll Illustration

“All I was thinking was, ‘What happened? Everything was fine last night,” said Nischal Shrestha, a freshman studying communication, about his hometown of Kathmandu, Nepal, which was shaken by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake April 25.

The death toll has reached 7,040, according to the Associated Press. Nepalese student Nischal Shrestha said that number meant something all too real for them the morning of the quake before they had any contact with their families.

Shrestha said all he wanted to do after he heard about the tragedy was to call his family, who is still back in Kathmandu.

“I immediately went to the store and bought a calling card,” Shrestha said. “I was so terrified because I hadn’t heard from my family yet.”

Sharma, a sophomore studying electrical engineering, said she could not call home for three or four hours because of the network traffic.

“It was morning here, so I couldn’t call them because of the time difference, but I had to call them anyway,” Sharma said. “Because of the networking, the calls were only allowed to last one minute, so I had to talk to them one minute at a time.”

Both Sharma and Shrestha said their families were unharmed and their houses are still standing.

Nepal has suffered up to 70 aftershocks, according to the Associated Press News website.

Both Sharma and Shrestha said this left their family on edge.

“I’m from Rajbiraj, and that’s about 12 hours from Kathmandu, but my family did feel some of the aftershocks,” Sharma said.

The initial earthquake struck at 11:56 a.m. local time, according to CNN —almost a 12-hour time difference between Nepal and Idaho. Sharma said she woke up to a missed call from her brother’s friend early in the morning.

Although they had cellphone contact with their families, both Sharma and Shrestha said Facebook was their number one source when it came to finding out information about the aftermath and the status of the safety of their friends.

“Some of my friends’ houses got destroyed,” Shrestha said. “I actually knew through Facebook that their houses aren’t livable anymore, so right now they’re just living outside. They don’t know what to do at this point.”

The earthquake epicenter was less than 50 miles from the Nepalese capital, leaving over 1 million people surrounded by rubble, according to the Associated Press.

Unlike Shrestha, who lived within the capital’s boundaries, Sharma said she did not know anyone whose house was reduced to wreckage.

Sharma said he was worried about several of his friends in the capital but then confirmed their safety via Facebook.

The historic center of Kathmandu was completely destroyed, including the newly paved roads and one of the city’s most treasured landmarks, the Dharahara Tower, which killed approximately 180 people when it fell to the ground, according the Associated Press.

Sharma said she never got to climb to the top of the tower, something she had wanted to do since briefly living in the capital when she was 12.

“After seeing the pictures of the destruction, I feel like a part of my life is destroyed with all the memories that I had there,” Sharma said.

Shrestha said he is not excited to revisit the city he had just recently returned to after serving a two-year mission in Minnesota, but at the same time he wants to go back to give aid.

“All the things that are gone, I was always around those places,” Shrestha said. “They’re gone. I’ll not be able to see them anymore. I just want to go back and help.”

Although the capital square is now nearly nonexistent, the majority of the city still stands, according to Time Magazine.

Although Kathmandu has thousands of people still left homeless, the remote villages, where the death tolls are almost double that of the capital, still need aid, according to Time Magazine.

Sharma said she asked her mother and father not to make the 12-hour drive to Kathmandu from their small town, but wishes she could do something more than just donate money, because donations are not enough.

“I just want to go and see if I can help in any way. Sharma said. I think I could go back and try to help Red Cross or make a Facebook page or something like that.”

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