Thousands of Travelers Stranded at Kathmandu's International Airport
Image via Twitter
Upon landing at Kathmandu’s airport aboard a Thai Airways flight, Todd Pitman of the Associated Press reported an announcement by the plane’s captain that there was no one in the control tower — it had been evacuated due to an aftershock. The plane moved to the terminal more than an hour later, after a runway damage inspection by airport officials, and a confrontation between airline staff and a Chinese businessman passenger who refused to turn off his cell phone, wanting to contact his family to make sure they were OK.
As the plane approached the terminal, Pitman observed supplies and fuel being unloaded by soldiers from an Indian military cargo plane. The latter reportedly running very low in Kathmandu. He also saw foreign rescue teams organizing themselves before making forays into the city.
In the airport, Pitman noted that the hotel reservations area was empty, as was the money exchange. But he observed thousands of people, the majority being tourists, waiting for flights out. Hundreds crowded the terminal, some even visibly injured, and thousands of Indian nationals formed huge lines in the parking lot, all waiting for evacuation flights.
Ghan Shyam Son told Pitman he and his family had been on a four-day trip as tourists and were supposed to leave Saturday.
"But our flight was canceled. We spent last night sleeping outside, in the open. We're trying to leave here, we're so afraid."
Pooja Bhandari, standing beside him, said simply: "No water. No light. I am hungry. No drinking water. No sleeping well. Very disturbed."
Another Indian national tourist told Pitman that two of her friends were missing. Twitter is becoming a hub in the search for missing tourists, a kind of virtual “have you seen this person?” poster.
Meanwhile the official death toll from Saturday’s earthquake has surpassed 2,500.
More by Michael Isenbek
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