Leven man’s concern for friends caught up in Nepal earthquake tragedy

Mount Everest, scene of deadly avalanches and attempted rescue operations (photo by Peter Mellon)
Mount Everest, scene of deadly avalanches and attempted rescue operations (photo by Peter Mellon)
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A Leven man is anxiously awaiting news of friends and former colleagues after the earthquake and avalanche tragedy in Nepal.

Peter Mellon spent five years working in the south Asian nation and said he still often thought about his time there.

I went all over the country and it’s very dear to my hear

Peter Mellon

He has been invited many times to go back – but is more concerned now about the people he knows.

The 55-year-old has been regularly checking Facebook and email since the country, between India and Tibet, suffered its worst earthquake in over 80 years.

Over 5000 people are known to have died, with many thousands more injured, according to the National Emergency Operation Centre.

The magnitude 7.8 quake struck around noon on Saturday, around 50 miles north west of the capital, Kathmandu, followed by a 6.7 scale aftershock.

Deadly avalanches were also triggered on Mount Everest and elsewhere in the Himalayas.

Mr Mellon worked in whiskly blending with a distillery in Nepal from 1994-99 and said: “I went all over the country and it’s very dear to my heart.” He was concerned about a number of ex-colleagues and friends who were still there, he said.

Many villages were perched on mountainsides, said Mr Mellon, but when the earth moved, it loosened huge rocks – “the size of houses” – which went tumbling down the mountains, while there was danger too from landslides and mudslides.

“A great fear in the high Himalayas is glacial moraine lakes, which are usually are surrounded by very high peaks,” added Mr Mellon.

“After earthquakes, or for other reasons, avalanches occur and send thousands of tonnes of snow into the lakes, creating waves which overwhelm the banks.

“The banks of the moraine lakes may collapse, sending millions of cubic metres of water down narrow valleys, which sweeps away any mountain village

in its path.”

“I have witnessed the after effects of this unbelievable devastation – deep gorges (200-300m) carved from the rock with tree trunks sticking out of the silt/rocky valley floor like matchsticks.”