In April 2015 I was in Nepal photographing case studies for the British Red Cross. Much of the work in Kathmandu city was focused on earthquake preparedness, since a major earthquake was anticipated at any moment. Just before midday on 25th April, when I was getting ready to leave, the city was hit by a 7.8 magnitude quake, which was the result of a shift in the earth’s crust that moved Kathmandu 3 metres to the south in half a minute. About 9,000 people were killed, many thousands more were injured, and more than 600,000 structures in Kathmandu and other nearby towns were either damaged or destroyed, making hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
When the earthquake struck I was in a stairwell on the 6th floor of a building, and despite the repeated training I had received and been documenting, when the building began to shake and sway as if it would topple, my animal instinct kicked in and screamed at me to get out. As a result I fell and badly sprained my ankle. The first quake lasted almost a minute. Once it had subsided I left the building and began photographing the devastation and interacting with the people I met so as to avoid thinking about the death I had narrowly escaped.
I gave the images to the Red Cross communications officer, who posted them online the following day, and consequently these images were some of the first to be picked up on the wire (Los Angeles Times, Irish Times, Manchester Evening News, Rappler, The Conversation, World Health Organization, Newsday, Lonely Planet, Chad).
Just around the corner I found this fire station whose facade had collapsed, preventing the fire engines that were badly needed for rescue operations from leaving.
People were feared to have been buried under the collapsed facade.
This man’s children had been convinced that he was under the rubble.
The injured were brought out into open spaces away from danger to be treated.
Listening to radio updates
Lives and livelihoods were lost or upended in a matter of seconds
Special units were deployed to assist in the search and rescue of victims
UNESCO heritage site Patan Durbar Square was levelled
Grieving the loss of life and heritage
Civilian volunteers worked alongside special units to help remove the rubble and search for survivors
Red Cross volunteers assisted the wounded and transferred them to medical centres