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First quake survivors arrive back in Spain

Jessica Jones · 29 Apr 2015, 16:29

Published: 29 Apr 2015 16:29 GMT+02:00

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As the first Spanish survivors of the ordeal arrived back in Madrid others voiced their concerns over those left still unaccounted for, among them 103 other Spaniards.

The Spanish mountaineer Jesús Calleja has spoken of his anguish over the uncertain fate of his many friends in Nepal.

In an interview on Spanish radio, the Spanish adventurer spoke of his concern for the safety of his two friends, Sherpas Pasang and Chiring, whom he befriended while climbing Everest.

"I have climbed the highest mountains of the Himalayas with them, including Everest, and thanks to them I am where I am today…because they helped me climb. They are like brothers to me and I don’t know where they are. I know that they were climbing on Everest (when the earthquake struck) and we are very worried," he said.

Calleja is a familiar face on Spanish television, presenting the documentary series Desafío Extremo (Extreme challenge). He climbed Mount Everest in 2005 and has also completed the Seven Summits challenge, scaling the highest peak on each of the seven continents.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Himalayan country on Saturday causing widespread devastation. Official figures put the number of deaths at over 5,000 while many of Kathmandu’s historic sites have been flattened.

More than eight million people have been affected by the quake, according to the United Nations, while over 10,000 have been injured.

A group of the first Spaniards to be evacuated from Kathmandu arrived back in Madrid on Wednesday morning, landing at the Torrejón airbase outside the capital.

The group of 44 people, including one baby, were accompanied on the plane by Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo and spoke of their terror at being caught up in the disaster.

According to one evacuated Spaniard "there is no city, no historical sites, only rubble and dead people."

Jonathan Herranz, 27, from Extremadura, told Spanish daily 20 minutos that "it was the worst experience in the world" and spoke of being "trapped" in Kathmandu airport for 50 hours without food and water.

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"I ran for 45 minutes in shock towards the airport," said Jonathan, whose taxi had crashed following the earthquake, "you could see heads, arms, rivers of blood and people who were very worried," he added, still in shock after the disaster.

The evacuated group of Spaniards spoke of the terrible conditions in Kathmandu airport, as hundreds of tourists await help with scarce food and water provisions - bottles of water are reportedly being sold for ten dollars each.

Another 71 Spaniards are due to leave New Delhi for Spain on Wednesday; a total of 127 Spaniards are being evacuated while chose to leave without Spanish government assistance, according to El País. 

There are still 83 Spaniards missing in Nepal. Spanish Foreign Minister Margallo said he hoped they would slowly begin to make their way to Kathmandu and that Spain "would not have to deal with any tragedies." 

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Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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