SUNSARI: “I had no hope for life,” Mohan Limbu, 65, said from a hospital bed in Dharan on Tuesday night. He survived the collapse of a makeshift bamboo building housing women
and children during a Christian convention that killed at least 23 people and injured another 63.
Among the dead are two infants, 17 women, and four men.
“At first, there was a squeaking sound and the three-storey structure collapsed. When I woke up, I was on this hospital bed.”
Limbu was one of the injured participating at the general convention in the premise of Zion Prayer Building.
Limbu was told later that he was buried under an entanglement of bamboos, ropes and human bodies. At the time of the tragedy, Limbu was talking with some of his male friends inside the bamboo structure.
It was almost mid-night, most of the participants had already gone to bed while some were preparing to do so. Electric bulbs shone feebly from the premises, although they had switched off their own lights at 11 pm. Some participants from the second storey had climbed up to the roof to cool themselves in the breeze.
The top storey of the structure had started tilting from the afternoon, according to Unis Pun, another of the injured. It collapsed on the second and the second collapsed to the ground, burying more than 300 participants.
“Children and women started crying for help and we began to rescue the
trapped,” Ruben Garbuja of Kathmandu, who was inside the church when the incident occurred said.
“By the time we rescued the victims by cutting the bamboos and ropes, twenty-three people had died,” he said.
Earlier in the day, nearly 1600 Christian had participated in the Church’s general convention, which was organised in Dharan for the first time.
Garbuja claimed that there were 500 participants in the bamboo structure and that the incident took place because of the organisers’ carelessness. The organisers, during a press conference, admitted that feeble management led to the disaster. They, however, said only 200-250 participants were in the makeshift structure.
The structure collapsed as it could not withstand the weight of a large number of people, the police said. Around 1,400 Christians had gathered for a convention.
Hom Bahadur Rai, who hailed from Sunsari’s Prakashpur said the rescue activities were hampered because there was no light after the incident.
“The makeshift structure had tilted from the afternoon and the organisers were informed about it. However, they did not pay attention,” Rai said. At the Dharan based BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, there was pandemonium.
The injured were being treated on the hospital floors because there were no beds. The emergency ward of the hospital was full of patients and their near and dear ones throughout Wednesday.