On 25 April an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck the country of Nepal, not far from its capital of Kathmandu. The quake triggered an avalanche on Everest killing 19 people, and overall to date 5,000 people are confirmed dead in Nepal, with predictions of it reaching 10,000.
After just over one week a new report came in from an isolated valley in the Langtang region, where 250 people were reported missing.
We see news reports all the time on our TVs of disasters occurring all around the world, but when we see the report come from an area we recognise then it hits home just a bit harder.
I spent the best part of three months in Nepal a number of years ago, and setting out from Kathmandu I trekked for 6 weeks in the Everest region. When the names of the small settlements were mentioned in the aftermath it tore at my emotions when I remembered the kindness of the Nepalese people, who had now fallen victim to this tragedy.
But it was the report a week later from the Langtang region that had the biggest impact. Towards the end of my time in Nepal, Pauline arrived and we set off to trek in the Langtang region. It was early May and the spring flowers were out in the valley. We were heading toward a distant peak and the last settlement was Langtang Lirung. This is a picture as it was on the day we stayed.
Now there is nothing left. The next photograph is after the earthquake struck, triggering an gigantic landslide that wiped out the village and its inhabitants. The photo is looking in the opposite direction to the one above.
When I was on the original trek in Everest I met up with an Australian guy called John, who worked in the film industry. We became friends and a few years later he returned to the Everest area. On that trip he set up sponsorship to pay for his Sherpa friend Kanhcha, who had helped him and kept him safe on his first trip to the Himalaya, so he could have a better roof over his head, and for his daughter to go to school.
Just a few days after the Langtang report was aired, another earthquake struck, this time close to Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa capital perched in a bowl high in the Himalyas. Kancha's house is not far from there. There is no news yet, and after a month has passed we are all getting increasingly concerned.
Nepal relies heavily on it's tourist industry, and with large parts of the capital destroyed, and the effect on the trekking regions, one of the main draws for visitors, the country is in an impossible situation as it needs the tourists back to bring money into the economy to aid the recovery. International aid has been flowing into the country, but when I heard reports of it being held up at customs, and that the government was going to tax it, well, I was more than a little angry. These great people of Nepal really don't need that kind of delay in help.
Sadly I feel it will be a long time before they recover fully.