GUWAHATI/RANGIYA/MUSHALPUR, April 28 � Manimala Sengupta (29) of Maligaon area in Guwahati, who is working with the State government as a consultant on State Plan of Action for Children, while narrating her experience in tremor-struck Nepal, told this newspaper that she had to return from the Himalayan country truncating her journey in the aftermath of the April 25 tremor.
Manimala said she had gone to Kathmandu with her friend Astha Bajracharya, a girl of Nepal-origin, for trekking. On April 25, they boarded a bus in Kathmandu for Beni for undertaking a trekking expedition. It�s a day�s bus journey from Kathmandu to Beni.
On their way to Beni, they came to know from the phone calls received by their fellow passengers that a massive tremor had struck Nepal. That was around 12 pm. But the jolt was not felt by the people inside the bus.
There were scenes of people running out of their homes in panic and within a short span of time, the road was full of terrified people. At one point somewhere near Pokhra, people stopped the bus carrying Manimala and her fellow passengers. The bus resumed its Beni-bound journey about 15 minutes later and soon came across several cracks and craters on the road. Negotiating all such obstacles, it reached Beni around 6.30 pm that day.
On her way to Beni, Manimala saw a major landslide, in which a truck was damaged. Consequently her bus was delayed by about an hour.
At Beni, a district town, Manimala saw that some buildings had developed cracks and a few houses made of mud and stone blocks had collapsed under the impact of the earthquake. Manimala and her friend could not sleep that night as the local administration had asked the people to stay outside their homes and assemble in the open spaces of their respective localities called khula mancha. Aftershocks continued to shake Beni throughout the night.
On April 26, Manimala and her friend decided to return to Kathmandu. But at the Beni bus stand, none of the buses was willing to undertake a journey to Kathmandu; Pokhra was the last destination for the bus operators. Finally they boarded a microbus for Kathmandu. On the way they saw landslides at several places.
The aftershocks resulted in several road mishaps too. In one such mishap, two youths riding a motorcycle, were killed when their two-wheeler collided with a bus. A man was also seriously injured in another mishap and he was taken to hospital by a rescue party.
Manimala and Astha reached Kathmandu from Pokhra by another microbus, around 5.30 pm, after about a six-hour journey.
On April 26, petrol pumps were closed in Kathmandu and on April 27, they opened only to witness long queues of buyers.
Astha�s father took Manimala to their locality, where people were staying in a camp put up in an open space. From there Manimala was taken to the Indian Embassy the next day and then to the Kathmandu Airport by Astha�s father.
An officer of the Nepal Police, who was a friend of Astha�s father, helped Manimala register herself with the Indian authorities quickly, thus enabling her to board a Delhi-bound Indian Air Force plane. In Delhi, she was received by the Assam Bhawan people. They arranged for her stay that night at Assam Bhawan and subsequent departure to Guwahati by an Indigo flight at 5.30 am today. She reached Guwahati around 8 am and at Borjhar, she was received by officials of the Assam government, Manimala said.
After seemingly endless hours of mental agony and fear, all ten persons belonging to three different families of Rangiya � Jyotish Lahkar, a former employee of Nahartali Tea Estate, his wife Dipika Lahkar and daughter Sreya Lahkar, Gurucharan Choudhury, an OIL employee, his wife Nilima Choudhury and their wards Ankur and Gitarha, veterinary doctor Dr Ashok Bharali, his wife Archana Bharali and their sons Dishant and Krishant, who had gone to Nepal on April 23, returned home safe yesterday.
All of them had visited the Himalayan nation for treatment of vision-related ailments at a private hospital in Kathmandu. On reaching Kathmandu on April 24, they stayed the night in a hotel and the following day being a holiday in Nepal, they decided to visit the famous Pashupati Temple. Suddenly around 11 am, while they were about to offer puja, they felt a big tremor. The quake shook the temple with such intensity that many things in it started breaking.
Terrified, they somehow managed to escape the scene unharmed. They spent the April 25 night at the Kathmandu Airport, and on April 26 they returned to India, where they stayed in a hotel arranged by the government for the victims. They reached Guwahati airport and finally their hometown yesterday. They were received by their families with tears of joy.
Meanwhile, Mandan Ali, Rakesh Rizal and Hemlata Rizal of Nikashi Bazaar under Mushalpur PS in Baksa district have been reported to be untraced in Kathmandu after the massive quake.
Mandan Ali, son of Sukur Ali, a businessman of Nikashi Bazar had gone to Kathmandu on some business. Sukur Ali, who had also gone to Kathmandu before the quake to meet his son, is said to be in contact with the family.
Meanwhile, Rakesh Rizal, a college student, had gone to Kathmandu to meet his sister Hemlata Rizal, a post-graduate student at Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Kathmandu. They had last contacted their family on April 24, but after the quake the family lost contact with them.
The two families have sought help of the administration in tracing the three missing persons.