A SUNDERLAND dad who escaped the horror of the Nepal earthquake to make it home to his pregnant wife and three children today said: “I’m very lucky to be alive”.
Graeme Jobes, 41, had travelled to the country for a friend’s family wedding, but got caught up in the disaster, which struck last Saturday.
He was in the Thamel area, a tourist resort of the country’s capital Kathmandu.
So far more than 5,000 are believed to have been killed after the 7.9 magnitude quake, while more than 8,000 are believed missing.
Mr Jobes’ wife Hollie, 35, travelled to Stansted Airport, in Essex, to meet her husband in an emotional reunion, after the first UK-aid flight which he was on arrived back in Britain, on Thursday morning. Speaking from his home, dad-of-three Mr Jobes, of Thornhill Gardens, told the Echo: “When the earthquake happened, the physical force was like when a bomb goes off, but again and again.
“There were more than 100 following tremors and the buildings were coming down around us.
“I’m still struggling with it all because it’s hard to describe what the devastation was like.
“I just feel very lucky to have come back with my life.”
After the earthquake and tremors, there was then a frantic attempt to phone home and let his family know he was alive.
“Because the phone lines were down after it happened, there was about 10 hours where I had to wait before I could let Hollie know I was OK,” he said.
When the earthquake happened, the physical force was like when a bomb goes off, but again and again.Graeme Jobes, who survived the Nepal earthquake
“I got a message to her to say I was alive and she has done really well.
“The stress of being pregnant has been very difficult for her. It was worse for her sitting at home worrying than it was for me.
“I made a promise to her that I would get home alive, and I have.”
Sorting travel arrangements to get home was also difficult, with thousands heading out of the country
Now recovering at home alongside his wife and three sons Joseph, 14, Matthew, 12, and Luke, four, Mr Jobes added that the world needs to support those in Nepal who have been affected.
So far £19million had been donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee Nepal Earthquake Appeal just a day after it was launched, while Britain is preparing to send RAF Chinook helicopters to Nepal, to help with the relief effort.
The Foreign Office has confirmed that one British national is among the victims, while it is investigating reports another has died.
Eight million people have been affected by the disaster which has wiped out entire villages, according to the United Nations.
“People need to support the Nepalese people to rebuild their country and their families,” said Mr Jobes, a manager for Hardings Solicitors.
“It’s a place where a lot of mountaineers and hikers go and it’s going to take time.
“It’s a Third World country that’s been destroyed by this.
“I’ve got to praise the British Embassy over in Nepal as well because they have done a brilliant job.
“They were even looking after people from other European countries as well as us.”