Dubai trekker’s lucky escape from Nepal earthquake

Dubai trekker Ala Lababidi was aiming to scale one of Nepal's tallest peaks for charity when the 7.8 magnitude quake struck.

Ala Lababidi arrived in Nepal on Thursday to embark on a trek to the 6,189 metre-high summit of Imja Tse.
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ABU DHABI // A Dubai trekker who aimed to scale one of Nepal’s tallest peaks for charity has described his lucky escape from a building moments before it collapsed.

Ala Lababidi arrived in Nepal on Thursday for a trek to the 6,189 metre-high summit of Imja Tse, better known as Island Peak, less than 10 kilometres from Mount Everest.

The 33-year-old Syrian expatriate was six hours into his trek from the village of Lukla, heading towards Namche, when the earthquake struck.

“We had stopped for a bite to eat and to take a break at a tea house,” said Mr Lababidi, managing partner at Creos Consulting. “Then the whole structure and floor starting shaking really hard so we ran out as fast as we could and watched the tea house partially collapse in front of our eyes.”

Mr Lababidi said he was in shock as events unfurled. “We watched as tea houses and lodges fell apart and got caught up in landslides.”

He was aiming to complete the charity trek to raise funds for the Syrian Children Relief Project, which helps young people to receive medical assistance and care which they cannot get in war-torn Syria.

Mr Lababidi, his guide and Sherpa continued their trek until they found a safer stopping point.

“We decided to keep moving forwards until we reached the lodge at our next destination,” he said.

“There were helicopters all day, going on rescue missions, and the injured were being taken to the local hospitals or to Kathmandu.”

Mr Lababidi was stranded in Lukla for two days while he waited to get a flight to Kathmandu.

For those who were waiting to leave it was a bonding experience.

“Among the trekkers and guides we just stuck together and made sure everyone was safe,” he said.

Mr Lababidi reached Nepal’s capital city on Monday, as aftershocks continued to jolt the area. People were advised to sleep in tents instead of in lodges.

He is now in Thamel, which was devastated. “It was affected badly by the earthquake, so 90 per cent of places there are shut.”

It is a waiting game to know when he can return home. “At the moment we have no idea. We will only know with time.”

Mr Lababidi had planned to raise US$10,000 (Dh36,700) on the 20-day trek. He plans to return to Nepal in October.