This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After a devastating earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday, Utahns with friends and relatives in the Asian country scrambled to check on their loved ones.
Several Nepal natives at the Himalayan Kitchen in Salt Lake City said they had been able to reach their families and learned everyone had survived.
Restaurant owner Surya Bastakoti and his daughter, Samita Bastakoti, said the 7.8 magnitude quake had knocked out phone lines but family members in Kathmandu and the Gorkha district eventually were able to reach them with cell phones.
Her sister and aunt had been slightly injured in the quake but everyone came out alive, Samita Bastakoti said. However, two family homes were destroyed.
"Everything is gone," she said. "They are living outside."
Nearly 1,400 were confirmed dead across Nepal following the quake, which struck Saturday at about noon Nepal time, according to the Associated Press. Another 34 people were killed in India, 12 in Tibet and two in Bangladesh, the AP said.
Surya Bastakoti said his brother told him that everyone had worked to dig out people buried under rubble. Residents in the Gorkha area where they live were unsure when relief supplies would reach them, he said.
"They don't have any medicine," Bastakoti said. "They don't know if anything is coming."
Jit Subba, a waiter at Himalayan Kitchen, said his family members also are living in a tent after their home was damaged. The aftershocks keep coming, he said, and "they are scared."
Hari Ghimire, an executive member of the Nepalese Association of Utah, was on the phone with his mother when another aftershock hit and he lost the signal. He couldn't reach her again for another three hours.
Eighty percent of the homes in his family's city are gone, he said, drinking his fifth coffee of the day. He couldn't sleep all night.
The same goes for Romika Maharjan, who tried reaching her relatives at 1 a.m. Saturday, finding only disconnected lines. Crying, she kept trying throughout an anxious night, until finally reaching her sister at 9:30 a.m.
"Everyone we know is suffering," she said. Her family's homes are gone, and it's raining. Maharjan's heart breaks as the photographs pour in from the other side of the world.
She and fellow members of the Nepalese Association bemoaned the loss of their cultural heritage as well. The quake wrecked buildings that were hundreds to thousands of years old, said Sher Maharjan, Romika's uncle.
Former Utah state legislator Jennifer Seelig, who has visited Nepal three times, was frantically trying to reach friends after learning about the earthquake. Finally, she heard they were OK through a Facebook posting.
A photo showed the friends sitting in grass outside their home, Seelig said, and the posting noted that it was hard to breathe because of all the dust in the air.
Members of Urgyen Samten Ling Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Salt Lake City received some good news Saturday.
Their spiritual leader, Khenpo Konchok Monlam Rinpoche, an exile from Tibet who lives in Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu at a nunnery overseeing about a dozen nuns, was reported safe. In addition, the nuns were confirmed safe.
The Nepalese Association held an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss ways to support the earthquake victims.
"It's our families, it's our people there," said Ram Chapagain, a former Nepalese Association treasurer who helped found the group." We can show the people of Nepal that the community in Utah can really help."
The association is planning to meet at 4 p.m. Sunday in the lounge of the Student Union Building at the University of Utah to accept donations and announce ways they plan to support victims of the Nepal earthquake.
The meeting will be open to the public, and parking is free.
"Prayers and thoughts for our brothers and sisters in Nepal who suffered the massive damage of lives and property from the earthquake and are still under the fear of it," stated a Nepalese Association Facebook post. "Let's join hands together and help our nation."
The association estimates that there are at least 500 to 700 Nepalese people in Utah.
Apa Sherpa in Nepal during quake
Apa Sherpa, the world record holder for summits on Mount Everest and who resides in Utah, was in Nepal when Saturday's earthquake struck.
His son, Pemba Sherpa, told KUTV his father and a group of Utahns were there building schools. The group is safe.
"I'm still shaken up," Pemba Sherpa told the television station.
Andrew Riddle's daughter was with Apa Sherpa on a suspension bridge when the quake struck.
"She was very scared and panicky on the phone," Riddle told KUTV. His daughter was not hurt but reported seeing someone hit by a landslide.