Utahns Touched By Nepal Quake


A candlelight vigil will shine in Salt Lake City’s Washington Square this Friday to honor those killed and injured in Saturday’s devastating Nepal quake. The death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake is still not firm but so far more than 4400 are thought dead with several thousand more injured or missing. Many Utah families, however, are breathing a sigh of relief after word that loved ones survived the devastation that leveled much of Nepal and Katmandu.

The quake trigged a massive avalanche that ripped through Everest basecamp. The bodies of 11 of the 18 victims have been recovered by Monday. Among those killed were California filmmaker Tom Taplin, who was filming a documentary on Everest, emergency room physician assistant Marisa Eve Girawong, serving as a base camp doctor for Seattle-based Madison Mountaineering, and Google executive Daniel Fredinburg, who was part of a project to create a Google street map of the trek to Everest Base Camp. The death toll could have been much higher but luckily about 80 percent of the climbers were out at Camp 1 or 2.

At least 80 stranded climbers had been evacuated with hundreds of others waiting. Rescuers are still locating the bodies of those who did not survive the roar of snow and ice at 18000 feet. “It lifted rocks and boulders ahead of it, slamming into hundreds of tents in the center of the camp and spilling over onto the Khumbu glacier on the other side,” wrote African climber Sean Wisedale on his blog. “Everywhere around us it was unstable. Avalanches continued to fall.”

Of the 11 bodies recovered so far, seven were Nepalese. Utah’s famed Apa Sherpa was in Nepal when the quake hit but the world record holder for summits on Mount Everest is safe, according to his son Pemba Sherpa. At the moment, airports remain closed, hospitals are brimming with patients, and there’s concern for sanitary conditions, water and food shortages, and more quakes.

The Nepalese Association of Utah is collecting funds for the American Red Cross to help the victims of the earthquake and have offered to help Utahns connect with their friends and family in Nepal. The vigil is at 7 p.m. on Friday at 451 South State Street, Washington Square in Salt Lake City.


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