A couple who made it out alive after being on a mountainside as a deadly earthquake struck have told of their terrifying ordeal.
Jonathan Blott, 24, from Church Street, Kirkham, and his German girlfriend Lena Holderer were some of the thousands of people caught up in the disaster in Nepal but managed to make it out alive.
“It’s hard to believe we’re survivors.”
The couple, along with Jonathan’s school friend Sam Stalker, also from Kirkham, and his girlfriend Dhwani, were on the penultimate day of an eight day trek in the Langtang Valley when the earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter Scale, struck 11 days ago.
The former St Annes College Grammar School student said: “We’d stopped in a village with a beautiful view of mountains either side and a river running through the valley.
“Suddenly, the buildings started shaking violently and there was a deep sound like a rumble.
“We looked up and could see piles of rocks falling and huge dust clouds, the buildings just tore apart.
“We ran to shelter by a huge boulder and realised we didn’t know where Sam and Dhwani were, it was really scary. A man had been hit by a rock and had blood all over him.
“Sam and Dhwani had been on a narrow path and told how it was like swinging from side to side, they couldn’t do anything but run and hope they weren’t hit by anything.”
They group decided to stay in their location, camping outdoors for five nights and surviving on food salvaged from the flattended properties and water from the stream, and befriending a group of Israelis.
They endured dozens of aftershocks, hearing landslides in the near distance - unsure just how close they were to disaster.
Jonathan said: “We didn’t take our boots off at all because at any moment we might have had to run.
“You’d hear a helicopter come and think ‘we’re saved’ but once it passed and darkness set in you knew nothing could happen. We were desperate.”
It wasn’t until the third day that the group learned the scale of the disaster, which has now claimed the lives of 7,300 people.
And they later learned Langtang Village, where they had stayed just a few nights earlier, was flattened in the quake.
Lena, 26, said: “We later met a man who we’d been with at a wedding there - he was the only one of his family to survive.
“We realised that actually we were really lucky.”
After waiting days for help to arrive, the group realised they would have to move further up the valley to reach a place for a helicopter to land, and set about a treacherous climb up a mountainside.
Jonathan said: “We had to decide whether to wait where there was little chance of a helicopter arriving or take a dangerous trek on paths where there were landslides happening.
“We had to clamber along the aftermath of two landslides, and then make this enormous, life-threatening climb, on all fours, up a mountainside.”
There, the foursome, still with their Israeli friends, had to beg an Israeli helicopter pilot, despatched by the country’s Embassy to rescue them, to take them too.
Here the group was separated, with Jonathan left alone on the mountainside due to a lack of room in the helicopter. while his three friends were flown to an army base,
Eventually they were reunited at the base, when he was rescued by another helicopter, where they waited for two nights for another helicopter to take them to the capital, Kathmandu.
Lena said: “Finally this enormous Nepalese helicopter flew in to take us out.
“As we flew out we could see flattened villages and roads covered by landslides.
“We could still see beautiful snowy mountains but rather than admire them we felt scared by what they could do.”
Within 24 hours of their arrival in the city the group were homeward bound, Sam and his girlfriend to her home near Ahmedabad in Western India, and Jonathan and Lena to the UK.
The couple, who met while studying neuroscience at University College London, are now back at Jonathan’s family home in Kirkham.
Aid agencies have warned a lack of shelter, contaminated water and poor sanitation in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake could lead to potentially serious outbreaks of disease.
So far, the death toll has reached 7,300.