A Preston man is launching his own aid mission for earthquake-hit Nepal after friends were killed and his home was destroyed in the disaster.
Gary Parkinson, who was brought up in Ashton but has lived in the Nepalese city of Pokhara for 12 years, said he is frustrated to see money and supplies flooding into the capital Kathmandu but none reaching thousands trapped in villages.
I reckon there could be 50,000 plus people killed in this.Gary Parkinson
Now he wants the people of Preston to join him in getting aid to those in need quickly.
He said: “It’s chaos in Kathmandu. There’s every single rescue team in the world out there but it needs dispersing.”
Gary believes the severity of the disaster is not being widely reported and fears the final death total could reach 50,000.
Gary Parkinson is calling on the people of his home town to back his attempt to stop suffering where he now lives in Nepal.
The area around the Gorkha district was devastated on April 25, when a powerful earthquake shook buildings to the ground and caused massive landslides, killing thousands and injuring many more.
The 48-year-old photographer saw the devastation with his own eyes and doesn’t believe the severity of the situation is being reported internationally, and is frustrated that aid is getting blocked in the capital Kathmandu.
Now he is looking to set up his own relief fund, working with friends in the affected areas, who can direct help to those who need it most.
He said: “The Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot areas around the Langtang National Park have experienced about three times the number of deaths Kathmandu have and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“But a lot of these places are inaccessible by road because they’ve been cut off by landslides and supplies are stacking up on runways that agencies can’t get out because of customs delays and other government red tape.
“The day before I left, me and some friends loaded up a truck with some tarpaulin, water, rice and so on, and we took it out there to some of these villages that look like they’ve been carpet-bombed.
“The people there aren’t being reached and they’re starting to starve to death.
“When they see any aid, it’s a free-for-all because they’re so desperate. I reckon there could be 50,000 plus people killed in this.”
Gary, a former Ashton High School pupil, managed to get a flight home to the UK on Saturday, May 2. He was riding his motorbike when the earthquake hit just before noon local time on April 25.
He said: “The shock lasted about seven minutes and it was surfing on concrete. The whole road was rippling and I thought the ground was about to crack open in front of me.
“I got off the bike and stood away from buildings, huddling with some others. I knew at that time that my house had probably been damaged, but it was a quick thought. My main concern was for all of my friends – were they okay?”
In following days, Gary learnt through email that five of his friends had been killed when two houses collapsed, and one friend and his severely injured wife are now trapped in their village after losing two sons.
When Gary returned to the stone house he’d built six years ago, he found that it had been flattened and all his camera equipment, apart from one lens, had been ruined.
He said: “If I’d have been in the house at the time, I wouldn’t be here now.
“I’ve also lost all my equipment, so I can’t work and I’ve lost out on a lot of very important images.
“But I can return to that later. I’m not going to run away from Nepal, but at the moment I have to try and get help to my friends and other people out there in these remote locations.”
Gary is now hoping to liaise with the Salvation Army in Preston to channel funding for vital supplies and equipment directly to those in need, and is appealing for others to help with donations.
He added: “Money needs to get out there quickly and properly, because this is a country in serious need. I have seen with my own eyes where it’s needed, and I will get it to the right places through my friends out there.”
He said: “The Nepalese people have suffered a lot before this, going from one disaster to another, and the Government doesn’t seem to do anything for its people.
“You wonder how long it’s going to take to clear this devastation away and start rebuilding solid structures.
“Sadly, I think it could take decades.
“You can still see ruins from the civil war and that ended in 2006.”
Anyone interested in helping Gary in his aid mission is asked to email him on: firstname.lastname@example.org