Nepal earthquake: 'Temple I just left became dust', Singaporean says

Nepal earthquake: 'Temple I just left became dust', Singaporean says
Madam Jasmine Ong (facing camera and hugging her family member) was one of the 74 Singaporeans and permanent residents evacuated from Nepal and arrived at Paya Lebar Air Base in a C-130 plane on the morning of 29 April 2015.

She was in a historic temple at the Patan Durbar Square in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, surrounded by its beauty.

But within a few minutes, the same monument was reduced to rubble in front of her eyes.

Singaporean Jasmine Ong said that she would have died if she had stayed in the temple for five more minutes.

Madam Ong, who is in her 50s and works in sales, was holidaying in Nepal when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake - the country's worst in 80 years - struck on Saturday.

Madam Ong, along with 73 other Singaporeans and permanent residents, were evacuated from Nepal and arrived at Paya Lebar Air Base in a C-130 plane yesterday at about 12.45am.

"I'm just so lucky to escape alive," she told The New Paper at the Paya Lebar Air Base.

The earthquake happened on the third day of Madam Ong's photography trip with a group of 20 friends. A visit to Patan Durbar Square, a Unesco World

Heritage Site, was at the top of their list.

Madam Ong said: "I've always wanted to photograph the old monuments there."

She recalled seeing two Chinese women in high heels taking pictures in front of her group.

"They were still in the temple when we left," she added.

The group then headed for lunch at an adjacent restaurant and had just settled down on its fourth-storey terrace when the earthquake struck.

She said: "Once we sat down, the building started shaking. I was so afraid that it was going to collapse.

"I squatted down and just grabbed whatever I could for support."


The tremors lasted less than five minutes, Madam Ong told TNP, but from the terrace, she had a full view of the extensive damage on the square.

"Buildings that existed five minutes ago were gone. The temple I'd just left became dust.."

Her thoughts immediately went to the two Chinese women she had last seen in the temple.

"I don't know if they were still inside, but I hope they are well. It could have been me buried in the rubble."

When Madam Ong returned to her guest house later that day, she chose to spend the night in a restaurant on the first storey instead of her third-storey room, for fear of being crushed to death. She said: "Nobody dared to sleep in their rooms. I slept next to a window in case I needed to escape quickly."

She felt at least three aftershocks that night.

"Each time I heard the tables shaking or felt the ground moving, I jumped out of the window to get to open space."

Over the next two days, Madam Ong witnessed plenty of heartbreaking scenes.

"I saw a lot of homeless people on the streets and they had no access to water.

"The sanitary levels were so bad that people were digging holes for toilets out in the open." Having witnessed the devastation first-hand, she hoped that Singaporeans would donate generously to the relief efforts there.

"We are so fortunate to be living in Singapore where there are no earthquakes. I just hope we can help the Nepalis rebuild their lives."

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