Nepal’s parallel disaster
The press have reported the traumatic story of a British-born Nepal earthquake survivor, who happens to be an archaeologist. Hayley Saul was trekking in Kathmandu with Emma Waterton, a fellow member of the University of York-based Himalayan Exploration and Archaeological Research Team (HEART) (Saul on left and Waterton on right, above, from the Northampton Echo). They and their guide and porters had to dodge falling boulders which wiped out their trail, and then find their way through a transformed and moving landscape to a village. They joined others for a cold, wet night (“In all honesty, we didn’t think we would survive”, says Saul). and the next morning climbed to a point where a helicopter took them to safety.
As Simon Jenkins writes today on the Guardian website, damage to “the ancient settlements of the Kathmandu valley and their Hindu and Buddhist shrines” constitutes a “second disaster”, beside that of the appalling human tragedy. Hayley Saul’s project set out to record and to help to restore and save some of the historic structures in Nepal, in particular a Buddhist monastery in Langtang, the village her group had left before the earthquake struck.
She wrote about the project for British Archaeology a couple of years ago. I’ve posted the complete feature here, an insight into the sort of things likely to have been lost in Nepal’s parallel disaster.