Lancaster cabbie’s mercy dash to earthquake-torn Nepal

Dave with the Canadian military in Sankhu.

Dave with the Canadian military in Sankhu.

0
Have your say

A taxi driver has appealed for help for the victims of the Nepal earthquake including a close friend who once saved his life.

Dave Edwards travelled to the South Asian country in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in April to help his pal Rajman Khabas, a Nepali mountain guide whose house had been destroyed.

In 2006, keen mountaineer Dave was climbing Mount Everest when he was struck down with altitude sickness.

Rajman helped him back down the world’s largest peak and saved his life.

Now nine years later, Dave has finally had the chance to repay his friend.

The 62-year-old from Lancaster flew out to Nepal after he discovered Rajman’s house had been destroyed in the recent earthquake, which killed more than 8,800 people and injured more than 23,000.

After raising money at his workplace 32090 Taxis in Lancaster city centre, Dave gathered together supplies including sleeping bags, tents and medication, and flew to Kathmandu, the capital of the South Asian country.

There he found Rajman, his wife and two children, and their dog Poddy, whose leg was bandaged after he leaped from their building in fear when the tremors struck.

The Khabas family’s house had been on the edge of the quarry. But it was gone, wrecked by the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal since 1934. The family’s only means of shelter was a tarpaulin.

Dave set up a secure tent for them to live in and stayed with them for a few days.

“There were tremors going off, some of them 5.5 (on the Richter scale),” he said.

“We had to cook in a nearby house that was still standing. But then a tremor would come and you would have to stop everything and run.

“Everything starts to shake. You just go really dizzy.

“The place is a mess. There are people sitting on piles of rubble, looking at what used to be their houses.

“But they still had time to talk to me and smile.”

Dave, a keen climber who has regularly visited Nepal for 30 years, has known Rajman for most of that time.

“I get on so well with him.

“He’s lost his home and his livelihood. As a climbing and trekking guide, all his bookings for the next year have been cancelled. It’s going to take a long time to get the tourism back. They have got to rebuild the whole country.

“Rajman has also lost friends and his daughter lost her best friend. They were in school when the first big tremor hit.”

While he was in Nepal, Dave also visited the nearby town of Sankhu, 15km outside Kathmandu.

A small team of Canadian military personnel, who were helping to clear piles of rubble, told him it was the worst hit of all towns in Nepal.

“There was virtually nothing standing there,” he said.

“A few hundred died. Bodies were still buried in the rubble. It was beginning to smell in the heat. People were frightened to go back because of the tremors.

“I took a few photos and got in and out as quickly as I could.”

Dave is now back in Lancaster but his thoughts remain firmly with his friends in Nepal, who still need help.

“I will be going back out there,” he said.

“If people can keep donating, this will be going on for a long time. It’s not just a couple of weeks thing.

“There’s not enough aid in there. The airport has piles and piles of aid but it’s not being moved because the government is hopeless.

“I’ve got a real affinity with that place. People out there are really friendly. They will bounce back from this. But they don’t get much help.”

Dave has appealed for donations through a UK charity called Community Action Nepal. For more information go to www.canepal.org.uk or call Dave Edwards on 07984 638606.