KATHMANDU: It all happened within seconds - the deafening sounds, explosions and tonnes of earth caving in, say Malaysian survivors of the deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal.
"The ground shook violently for nearly a minute before our guide asked us to run to a nearby base camp lodge," recalled Lim Aik Ming at the Tribhuvan International Airport here yesterday.
The 32-year-old and his friends Lim Sheng Huah, 32, and Ho Shin Weng arrived in Kathmandu on April 21 for an eight-day expedition of Mount Annapura near Pokhra, about 200km from the capital.
The group was with a local guide and two porters. On the fourth day of their trekking, at about noon on Saturday, the ground suddenly shook heavily with strong winds.
"Later, our guide, who was carrying a satellite phone, managed to verify the magnitude of the quake with Annapura base camp and warned us of aftershocks and landslides.
"We decided not to continue with our attempt and instead, headed for safer ground," said Aik Ming.
Sheng Huah said: "It was really the scariest experience we ever faced . We decided to just return to the hotel and try to get the first available flight ticket."
Another young Malaysian couple from Kuala Lumpur, who declined to be identified, recalled how they were forced to spend four nights under a makeshift tent with local residents in Pokhra town.
"We were on the second floor of a five-storey hotel building when the earthquake struck," one of them said.
The other added: "We rushed out from our room when the entire building shook violently as though it was going to collapse at any time."
The couple is determined to return to Nepal once the situation returned to normal.
All five of them left Nepal Wednesday night after the Malaysian embassy's counsellor/charge d'affairs Fadli Adilah assisted them in securing flight tickets via AirAsia.
A team of mountaineers from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, who was in Nepal to climb the Everest, would return today, said UTM corporate affairs senior deputy registrar Siti Salamah Mohd Shihbab.
Meanwhile, those wishing to help the victims in Nepal can send goods to the Subang RMAF airbase.
"Collection will be done at the second cargo warehouse from 9am to 5pm everyday," an RMAF statement read.
Those who would like to know more can liaise with Kapten Faizal Mohd Nor at 019-988 2494 or Leftenan Kolonel Omar at 019-456 2271.