Nepal Stands Strong

On 25 April 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck central Nepal, claiming over 8000 lives and injuring thousands of others. My colleagues and I at Nepali Times were having a company retreat at Hattiban Resorts when disaster struck.


The big one was said to hit Nepal every 70 to 80 years, with the last one in 1934. It was only a matter of time.


Once again, no one was prepared for this — not the buildings, not the people. For many nights, no one dared sleep in their houses, fearing it could collapse anytime without warning, as a result of the incessant aftershocks.

But deep down everyone knew: Nepal stands strong through adversity.

Mr Kunda Dixit, editor and publisher of the Kathmandu-based weekly newspaper Nepali Times, sips tea at the Hattiban Resort minutes before the first jolt of the earthquake.

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The view from the hill of Hattiban Resort shows pockets of dust filling the air, as a result of buildings collapsing in the Kathmandu Valley. It was a stage to witness the sheer destruction caused by the earthquake.

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Staff at the resort quickly came out to open spaces in case any building collapsed. Many of them started praying for their families back home.

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Journalists from Nepali Times quickly check social media for more information about the situation, while some were frantically calling their family members who are staying in the Kathmandu Valley.

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The phone lines went dead very soon after the first jolt. While some of the phone calls made it through, not all were answered, and they imagined for the worst. 

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The Wi-Fi connection at the resort lasted a little longer than the phone lines, allowing those stranded at Hattiban Resort to watch videos of the situation in Kathmandu.

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Tourists resting while others took a closer look at the aftermath of the earthquake.

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Common areas were made into safe sites for the locals to sleep at night. No one was certain that their house could withstand another strong aftermath.

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While some tried to catch as much sleep as they could between aftershocks, others who are not able to fall asleep tuned in to the national radio stations to stay updated on the situation around Nepal.

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Tourists and locals shared any space they could find to catch a short nap through the night.

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Locals from the Tibetan community in Nepal set up tents in an open field at Ekantakuna to wait out the aftershocks and potentially more earthquakes.

Locals from the Tibetan community in Nepal set up tents in an open field at Ekantakuna to wait out the aftershocks and potential earthquakes.

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A Tibetan lady embraces her father during a strong aftershock.

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Newly developed walls came down as a result of the earthquake. Meanwhile, these ruins become playgrounds for the children in the area.

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Not knowing when the next jolt would be of an earthquake or an aftershock, many would stay low in preparation for the worst.

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Locals improvised using the poles from prayer flags in the open field to construct tents, in preparation to stay outside for the night.
Locals improvised using the poles from prayer flags in the open field to construct tents, in preparation to stay outside for the night.
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A family rests in their car to take shelter from the afternoon sun...Many who heard of possibly another earthquake quickly drove their cars to open areas to wait it out. That afternoon, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal again, accompanied by several af
A family rests in their car to take shelter from the afternoon sun.

Many who heard of possibly another earthquake quickly drove their cars to open areas to wait it out. That afternoon, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal again, accompanied by several aftershocks.
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An elderly woman looks for her relative at the open field at Ekantakuna.

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In the center of the tents was one of a Tibetan Buddhism congregation praying while waiting out the aftershocks.

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Many locals resorted to resting near buildings as the tents did not provide much shelter from the sweltering heat.

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Children rush back home between aftershocks to get their pillows and blankets, in preparation for spending the night out in the makeshift tents.

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Locals taking an afternoon nap while waiting out the aftershocks.

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Locals take shelter from the afternoon sun under the shade casted by a tall building...The street dogs are also often the first to sense an earthquake or aftershock.
Locals take shelter from the afternoon sun under the shade casted by a tall building.

The street dogs are often the first to sense an earthquake or aftershock — a good indicator of when to take cover.
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A young girl runs around the tents with a colourful umbrella.

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In order to stay warm and to keep their mattresses off the grass, children formed chains to collect fallen bricks to form a a ground foundation for their homes for the night.

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Vehicles were also parked in the open fields at Ekantakuna — many doubling up extra beds for the locals.

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A young girl looks out of her tent at Ekantakuna, where locals were waiting out the numerous aftershocks. For me, her face resembled hope.

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First Flight Out

Tourists from all over the world, who arrived in Nepal for a trip of a lifetime, found themselves scrambling to leave the country — uncertain about the next big jolt that could steal more lives.


For the locals who called Nepal their home, there was nowhere to run. For those like us, who had somewhere else to return to, we waited for the next flight out.


But for some, it already felt like we were home. Leaving our friends abruptly for a safe haven felt strange.

On assignment for the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Many of the tourists panicked and wanted to be on the very next flight out back to their home country. Below the flight information still ran advertisements promoting the different tourist sites and durbar squares in Nepal — many of which has already been destroyed by the massive earthquake.

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A tourist lost with his luggage while others queued up for hours under the hot afternoon sun in order to be on the next flight out of Nepal.

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In order to prevent anyone from jumping the queue, many stuck as closely as possible to each other in the line.

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The long snaking queues filled the space at Tribhuvan International Airport, from the terminals to the carparks.

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Many of the planes were unable to land as it was not certain if the tarmac at the airport could withstand the weight of some aircraft carriers — particularly military planes looking to ferry their citizens home.

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A young girl waits in line at Tribhuvan International Airport while hugging her soft toy.

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A family, whose two children suffered injuries to their eyes and head, looks to leave the country as soon as possible for medical treatment back home.

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A tourist breaks down at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

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Singaporeans, registered under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wait for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s C-130 plane to take them home. However, the plane was unable to land due to congestion on the tarmac, and they were running low on fuel while circling the airspace.

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In the evening of the first day, it was announced that the RSAF's C-130 was unable to land that day as it was running low on fuel. Some chose to stay in the airport for the night while others returned back to their accommodations in the city.

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Journalists from the local papers continued working through the night to inform the people about the situation in the next day's papers.

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While some were desperate to leave the country, others could not bear to part, not knowing what will happen in the days to come.

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First sight of the RSAF C-130 in the pouring rain.

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RSAF personnels onboard the C-130 help to load the luggages before the flight back to Singapore.

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RSAF personnels communicating before taking off for Singapore.

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A RSAF personnel surveys the skies while en-route to Singapore.

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Singaporeans and permanent residents clapping for the RSAF crew onboard the first C-130 out of Nepal, upon successful landing at Paya Lebar Air Base past midnight.

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