SALT LAKE CITY – Some Utahns who survived the devastating earthquake in Nepal returned home Tuesday.
Salt Lake residents Tom and Paula Heath and Sue and Keri Oldroid are some of the Utah tourists who were in Kathmandu when the earthquake hit on Saturday.
With the help of a guide, they were able to get a flight out of Nepal to India and fly back home to Utah on Tuesday.
“We're lucky. We feel real fortunate to be out of Kathmandu," Tom Heath said.
Both couples talked about devastation they witnessed when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake ravaged Nepal.
“All the sudden, the shaking started. It lasted around 20 or 30 seconds and very frightening,” Tom Heath said.
“As soon as it hit, we all said ‘earthquake.’ And everybody panicked to try to get out. I got stuck on the door, my jacket. And so people were pushing behind me,” Paula Heath said.
They were stranded in the capitol city for several days, sleeping in tents outside their hotel, which became unstable after the quake.
“I did not stop shaking for a long time,” Sue Oldroid said. “The earthquake stopped shaking and I kept shaking."
The couples and other members of the group were able to get a flight to India with the help of a tour guide. They say they feel fortunate to be alive.
“We were eating lunch at a little pagoda restaurant the day before at noon and we were supposed to be eating lunch there the day the earthquake hit, which was at noon, and the tour guide just decided for some reason to change the schedule,” Sue Oldroid said. “So we would've been on the second floor of that building and it was destroyed. So there were a lot of miracles like that."
Others have not been so lucky. Aid workers from the Utah-based Apa Sherpa foundation are still stranded in a village below Mount Everest.
Director of the Foundation Jerry Mika said they are in desperate need of more supplies in the outlying villages.
“A lot of the rescue efforts are coming off Everest and Kathmandu and it's really a shame that nobody is there to help anybody on the outlying regions that are totally demolished,” Mika said.
The Apa Sherpa Foundation is accepting donations on their website to help with relief efforts in the region at Apa Sherpa Foundation. Visit the Apa Sherpa website for more information and how to donate to relief efforts here: http://apasherpafoundation.org/