AN EXCITING research expedition to Nepal for Oldham Mountain Rescue Team members ended in drama as they were caught up in a devastating earthquake.
Retired GP, Andrew Taylor, from Grasscroft, was with Denzil Braodhurst and David Wyatt, from Uppermill, on a seven-week Medex Manaslu Circuit Medical Expedition.
But as they waited in Kathmandu ready for their flight home, the 7.8 magnitude quake hit the area, claiming more than 8,000 lives while more than 15,000 have been left without homes and food.
Dr Taylor, chair of the Greenfield and Grasscroft Community Association, recalled: “The main shock struck about noon when I was walking back to the hotel.
“The road moved sideways, and then moved up and down making it impossible to walk. Parked motor-cycles fell over and debris fell from rooftops. People ran from buildings, and quite a few screamed.
“Most people immediately found open ground and looked upwards at teetering buildings, water towers and telegraph posts – all potential hazards.
“Late afternoon found many drifting back to the hotel but running outside as further isolated shocks occurred.”
Flights out of Kathmandu were cancelled to allow priority for inbound rescue and support aircraft.
Dr Taylor continued: “Fortunately, all of our members escaped unscathed. Some in the hotel experienced very frightening building movement, but our area fared better than many.”
The British Embassy recommended evacuation to a Gurkha Transit Camp for safety, to wait for flights, as more shocks were expected as well as stormy weather.
Dr Taylor revealed: “We were lucky to get boarding passes after three hours of queuing and seats after a further seven hours.
“We were not in a position to help. We had given away all our medical equipment to local health facilities, days away, as we walked out.
“However, all of us dealt with and helped injured we came across. But we were not in a position to offer useful help as a team.”
Dr Taylor’s son, Anthony, 43 kept in touch with his father by texts to check the trio were alright.
Mick Nield, leader of Oldham Mountain Rescue Team, added: “No one from the expedition has been injured and some of them had already flown back.
“I was quite anxious when I heard about the earthquake as I didn’t know if the lads had already taken off like some of the group.
“Then to find out that they hadn’t left, but not knowing what had happened to them, was worrying.”