Thai pilgrims in Nepal recount escape as buildings collapsed

Thai pilgrims in Nepal recount escape as buildings collapsed

Some Thai pilgrims who were in Nepal when the 7.8-earthquake struck on Saturday had a narrow escape as they witnessed the horrific scene first-hand.

"I was about to step into a building to buy some food when the ground under my feet began shaking," Chamaiporn Taengkliang, 30, said yesterday after a military aircraft brought her back to Thailand.

When she looked around, nearby buildings were clearly swaying back and forth. "My tour guide and I hunkered down. We called up all our powers of concentration," she said.

The others in the pilgrimage group got out of the bus and joined them. Led by their local guide, they started looking for a safe place amid all the chaos and stampeding.

"When I looked back at the food-store building, it was a total wreck," she said. After the shocks stopped, her group headed to a hotel but it had suspended operations, so they spent the night in front of it.

On Sunday, they felt better enough to buy things to eat and share some with other quake victims.

Chamaiporn felt lucky because the tour operator took good care of her group even in the wake of the tragic tremor, which killed more than 5,000 people including many tourists.

Kittikawin Sangthong, an 11-year-old Thai survivor, said he had reached Kathmandu just one day before the seismic eruption. "I joined a pilgrimage trip," he said. "I went with a monk and my friends".

When the quake hit, he got really scared and tried hard to find shelter.

Just as he was struggling to deal with the tragedy, he got a bit of good news - that a military plane had arrived from Thailand and was ready to fly him home.

"I'm so glad to be back. I don't want to visit Nepal again."

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