Utahns with loved ones in area of 7.8-magnitude earthquake share stories of devastation in Nepal

Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-25 23:38:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - A 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 1,400 people Saturday and devastated homes and buildings throughout Nepal, and Utahns with family members in the area of the disaster spoke about the destruction their loved ones witnessed. The quake hit about 50 miles outside Kathmandu, and the death toll is still rising.

Utah resident Andrew Riddle's daughter was doing relief aid work in the region, and he said she was traveling on a suspension bridge when the quake hit.

“And they were right in the middle, crossing over, and they started feeling the bridge start to shake,” Riddle said. “They looked across the bridge, they started to see the hillside, landslides coming down."

Luckily, Riddle said, his daughter, Alexis, and members of her group are OK. Riddle said he and his wife are getting constant updates from their daughter.

“We're able to communicate with her now still, you know, by texting and she's just very, very scared still,” he said.

Saurav Sapkota, a server at the Nepalese restaurant 'The Kathmandu' in Salt Lake City, said his wife, who currently lives in Nepal, called him at 2:30 a.m., right when the earthquake was happening.

“She called me, and she immediately said ‘There's an earthquake, big earthquake here,’” Sapkota said.

Sapkota said his mother, who he was also in contact with, told him she was walking near a large building when it collapsed on the people inside.

“They could not come down, they were crushed inside,” he said. “And she was right there to see the building was falling. And when I called, she was crying."

Sapkota has coworkers who also have family in the region, and some said they have not been able to contact their loved ones because of downed power lines. He said they're offering each other moral support, but the family they've talked with say they’re scared.

"They are terrified,” he said. “My mother could not talk nicely right now, she saw a lot of things yesterday."

Sapkota has set up a GoFund me account to help people devastated by the quake here.

The Apa Sherpa Foundation is also taking donations to offer relief in the area.