I came to Kathmandu 10 days ago, as part of All Hands Volunteers Disaster Assessment Response Team (DART). We were responding to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that happened on April 25. Only 17 days later, as our team were out in the field clearing rubble in the village of Bungamati, a second earthquake shook the city and surrounding districts.
I was sitting at a desk in the office nearby to the hotel we had set up camp in when everything started to shake. I hadn't felt any of the aftershocks the team had been talking about until now. It took just three seconds of thought before I jumped out of my seat and ran out of the office. My first thought was of my colleague Sinah. She was on the second floor of the hotel sleeping. I went to run to get her, but the hotel was shaking and my feet were bouncing up and down like the floor had become waves. I stood frozen, my body in shock. I started shouting, "Sinah, Sinah, wake up!"
Cliche as it may sound, time genuinely seemed to stand still. It felt like forever, but must have been a few seconds when she appeared, running, pure terror in her eyes. When she got to me we held each other as the ground continued to shake. I didn't know what to do. We didn't even run away from the shaking hotel, we just stood still frozen, holding on to each others shoulders. I looked at Sinah and she was yellow looking at the ground. I thought it was a strong aftershock until I heard people shouting earthquake and the number 7.3. The earthquake that happened only 17 days prior was 7.8.
Around an hour later we all took turns in pairs quickly entering the hotel to pack safety bags of our passports and essentials. The owner of our hotel, Benjamin Monnet, opened up his doors to the local community and within three hours our usually silent garden had transformed into an emergency evacuation centre, housing over 200 locals, aid workers and travellers.
We spent the night sleeping outside and waking every hour to aftershocks shaking the ground beneath us. You would see hundreds of people shoot up simultaneously. It was really upsetting watching how terrified the locals were, experiencing this for the second time in a matter of weeks.
We will all be camping outside for a few days, as we are expecting more aftershocks and already unsafe buildings are just too hazardous to be in. Despite the uncertainty of the upcoming days, our All Hands team will be entering vulnerable communities to try and meet the needs of the victims of these earthquakes.
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