Horror in Nepal's 'worst-hit' village

  • 6 May 2015
  • From the section Asia
Police handout photo of Langtang
Image caption Just one house was left standing in Langtang after the landslide

My cameraman Sanjay Ganguly and I were the first journalists to visit what is reckoned to be the worst hit village in all Nepal.

We'd travelled on a reconnaissance mission with two British Gurkhas.

You can watch our report here but be warned, it is very upsetting.

Until last week Langtang village was one of the most popular trekking destinations in Nepal. It was home to 435 people and 55 hotels and guest houses.

Now just one house remains.

The earthquake triggered a catastrophic avalanche and landslide that submerged the village under a great plume of ice and rock.

Satellite images taken five days after the earthquake show the entire hillside collapsed more than 700 metres (2,300ft) down onto the village.

In Kathmandu a friend and colleague who works for the BBC Nepali Service, Surendra Phuyal, showed me a picture he'd taken when he was trekking in Langtang in September.

Comparing his picture to our helicopter images of the area now, the epic scale of the landslide became apparent.

One villager said he thought it was at least 100m (350ft) deep. But it is only on the ground that the loss becomes viscerally real.

There were 52 bodies laid out under ragged plastic sheets and tarpaulins when I was there.

I am an emotional man and I'll admit I struggled to contain the sense of horror I felt. At least one villager has lost every single member of his near family.

According to the villagers, 178 local people died.

No one knows how many foreign tourists have lost their lives.

It was almost lunchtime when the quake struck and trekkers would have been arriving at the tea houses and restaurants in the village.

Image caption A view of Langtang village in September 2014
Image caption The landslide destroyed everything in its path

One of the Nepalese officers helping the villagers recover bodies from the area said the working estimate was that as many as 150 trekkers could have died in the disaster.

At least one British man is known to be missing, 23-year-old Mathew Carapiet, but the British government believes there may be more.

Langtang has been the focus of a massive airlift, with more than 200 people brought out of the area in helicopters.

Media captionDramatic footage from village of Kyanjin Gompa, a few hours' walk from Langtang, captured the moment when the quake struck

There is a very vivid account of the tragedy here.

The villagers who are still there do have food and shelter but they want to bury their dead. They say they want help to bring the bodies up from Langtang village to a site at the top of the valley.

They say they need a grand lama to perform the service. Meanwhile they continue to dig in the devastation for the dead.

While we were there they brought out another victim, a young female tourist.

The rescue teams say it could be weeks before they recover all the bodies.

Click here to donate to the appeal launched by the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).