“I ran in shock toward the airport and all I saw were heads, arms and blood”

Spanish survivors of Nepal's devastating earthquake give accounts of their ordeals

Miguel González
The first group of 37 Spaniards evacuated from Kathmandu, Nepal.
The first group of 37 Spaniards evacuated from Kathmandu, Nepal.Zipi (EFE)

Two groups of Spaniards who were stranded in Nepal after Saturday’s devastating earthquake arrived in New Delhi late Tuesday night as part of the first round of evacuees rescued by the Spanish government.

Looking tired and exhausted, the first group consisted of 36 adults and a baby. Later, 78 more Spaniards were brought to the Indian capital.

Most did not want to speak to reporters after their three-day ordeal, but the few who did could not contain their sadness and anger.

The entire city was flattened, it just doesn’t exist anymore”

“They treated us like dogs,” said Jonathan Herranz, a 27-year-old resident of Barcelona who was able to leave Nepal on a commercial Spice Jet airliner.

Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit as he was riding in a taxi on the way to the airport. The vehicle slammed against a house but he quickly managed to get out of the taxi with the help of a Nepalese man.

The driver and two other passengers died smothered in the vehicle.

“I ran for 45 minutes in shock toward the airport and all I saw were heads, arms and pools of blood, and a lot of very worried people,” Herranz said. “The entire city was flattened, it just doesn’t exist anymore. Its historic heritage has been totally destroyed.

For the next 50 hours, he was confined at the airport watched by two armed guards and told he couldn’t leave the country unless he paid for a new visa.

Humanitarian aid arrived at the airport but the only water bottles were passed out to the Nepalese”

“Each bottle of water cost $10. Like me, everyone else got robbed,” he explained.

According to Herranz, priority was given to Indians and Chinese, who were separated from the rest of the foreigners and given food and water.

“We spent 50 hours standing on the airstrip; it was raining and I was wearing a short-sleeve shirt with no blankets to cover us. It was very cold – I am an adult but there were children there too.”

Herranz said tons of humanitarian aid arrived at the airport in Kathmandu but the only thing he saw passed out to the Nepalese were water bottles.

“The shipments arrived at the airport but they never left the facility,” he said, calling the Nepalese government “the worst scourge” he had seen in his life.

While the entire experience left him “depressed,” he said he was still “proud to have a government like the one we have in Spain.”

“At least they rescued me from a catastrophe and didn’t try to swindle me like they did,” he said, in reference to the Nepalese authorities.

Herranz was only in Kathmandu for 19 days, but Mikel Aingueru Leizeaga, a 49-year-old Gipuzkoa native, has been living in Nepal for 22 years along with his Nepalese wife.

Local residents gathered together at a camp, sharing basic essentials with others, such as blankets and a bit of tea

When the quake hit at 11.57am on Saturday, he was at his travel agency located in Thamel. “It’s a backpacker’s favorite neighborhood, but you can’t escape from there because all the buildings are lined close together, and not even a truck could drive through the streets, much less a taxi.”

“You have no escape route,” he explained.

The seven-floor building next to his agency collapsed as the earth shook, so he sought refuge in a public garden. For two nights he slept in a camp with other local residents, sharing basic essentials such as blankets, mattresses, cookies and a bit of tea.

The worst part was when the 70 subsequent aftershocks hit. “It is like eternity because you can’t sleep and each time you felt the ground shaking below your feet you think it will be worse than the first one.”

Some of Mikel’s friends were killed and others have not been located. He said he fears that the country will be without water, electricity and food for some time, which could cause epidemics.

But he still has plans on returning. “As soon as the shock wears off,” he said.

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