A Borders family was set to return to the UK last night (Wednesday) after narrowly surviving the earthquake horror which has devastated Nepal and already claimed more than 5,000 lives.
Former Southern journalist David Knox, his wife Aileen and four-year-old daughter Jess were due to board a flight organised by the British Army at the nation’s capital Kathmandu yesterday afternoon.
Along with 150 other stranded British tourists, consular staff and soldiers, they were expected to arrive at Stansted Airport near London at 9pm last night.
Having enjoyed long treks and visits to popular sites, including the World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara and the jungles of the Chitwan National Park, the Knox family were on the last day of their holiday in the city of Patan, south of Kathmandu, when the earthquake struck at around noon on Saturday.
“We had just been on the famous temples in Durbur Square getting photographs taken with Jess when we decided to pop into a nearby museum,” recalled Mr Knox, 48.
“We paid our money and were climbing the stairs to get in when we started getting thrown from side to side, wall to wall – it was the craziest thing ever.
“It lasted about a minute and when we looked down across the square we saw the temples, where we had been just five minutes earlier, crashing to the ground. It was a scene of pure devastation.
“If we had still been there, we would have been gone, of that there is no doubt.”
Amid the scenes of panic and the repeated aftershocks which ensued, the family took refuge for five hours in some gardens behind the museum.
“We were incredibly lucky,” said Mr Knox in a telephone call from the British Embassy in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
He revealed that as the full impact of the tragedy unfolded, the Knoxs, who live near Lilliesleaf, had attempted to rearrange their travel plans but were unable to get a flight out of the country.
“We spent two nights on the floor of Kathmandu airport but, on Monday, we were denied entry into India despite having a boarding pass.
“Since that night, we’ve been holed up at the embassy waiting for a special flight home.
“Although it has been a terrible few days, we have been fantastically looked after by the embassy, the British Army and the Gurkhas.”
When news of the earthquake broke, relatives and friends of the Knox family made desperate attempts to contact them without success until a message appeared on Mr Knox’s Facebook page on Sunday to say they were “safe and well, but currently stranded”.
Previous social networking messages had indicated how much the family, particularly little Jess, had been enjoying their “holiday of a lifetime”.
Readers who wish to financially help those affected by the events in Nepal could do so by visiting the website of the Ghurka Welfare Trus t –www.gwt.org.uk/donate-now
z Selkirk waiter witnesses Nepal horror – see page 2.