Rajen Shakya

Victoria family devastated by Nepal earthquake

Rajen Shakya, the co-owner of Mint restaurant, and his wife and Nina Kansakar spent the weekend trying to contact family in Nepal

Family first.

It’s a motto Rajen Shakya, the co-owner of Mint restaurant, and his wife and Nina Kansakar know all too well.

The Victoria couple spent the weekend getting in touch with their family in Nepal after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Himalayan nation between the capital Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara on Saturday.

The quake caused buildings to collapse, destroying several historical sites and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest that buried part of the base camp, killing 16 and injuring 61.

More than 3,000 people have died and the death toll is expected to climb in the coming days.

Shakya and Kansakar initially heard about the earthquake from a cousin in Australia.

“I was shocked. We were just going to bed and we started trying to connect, but all the phone lines were down. It took us three hours to connect with everyone,” said Kansakar, whose family was in Kathmandu, one of the hardest hit areas.

She found out Sunday night that the body of her great aunt was found under the rubble and her cousin was still missing.

Shakya was able to find most of his family at a cousin’s wedding also in the Kathmandu Valley during the quake.

“It was quite a relief. All my mom’s side of the family was there,” he said. “Those two hours of waiting were the hardest. My mom said she never felt anything like that before.”

Shakya said the home he grew up in is gone.

“It’s in ruins,” he said. “For me, when I see all those monuments that have fallen down — those are the places I used to play as a kid, we’d climb up and down the stairs, watch the sunsets and watch the world go by and it’s all gone now.”

Just the magnitude of the destruction and the casualties — it makes me cry everyday.”

They were in Nepal only two months ago with their two children and took photos of the monuments that are no longer standing.

“I feel like I’ve lost the place that I grew up. All the historic things, I was so proud of Nepal architecture,” added Kansakar. “When I see the pictures of it crumbling down, it’s devastating. What am I going to show my kids now?”

In the aftermath, Shakya said the best way to help is to donate to organizations such as the Red Cross.

According to Phyllis Argue, manager of government relations for B.C., Yukon for the Canadian Red Cross, a field assessment coordination team has been deployed to Nepal to assess the situation and find out what additional support is needed.

She said the best way to support their effort is to make a financial contribution.

“One of the values of giving to the Red Cross is our presence in countries that have national Red Cross Societies. They are working in the moment and can mobilize immediately,” said Argue.

Red Cross also offers a family link program where people in the affected area can update family members on their condition. People searching for family can also post online who they are searching for at www.familylinks.icrc.org or call the Burnaby office at 604-709-6667.

Families searching for Canadians who may be living or travelling in the affected region can contact Foreign Affairs Canada at 1-800-387-3124.

 

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