SA couple describe near-death experience in Nepal

The couple described surviving on snacks they found at a stopover in the mountain.

South Africans Mike Sherman and Kate Ahrends. Picture: Supplied

NEPAL - South Africans Mike Sherman and Kate Ahrends have described their dramatic ordeal in Langtang surviving the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Nepal.

The couple have been dating for six years and disaster struck a week ago on the first day of their hike.

The quake has killed more than 6,000 people and thousands have been injured.

The death toll could rise further. Bodies are still being pulled from the debris of ruined buildings, while rescue workers have not been able to reach some remote areas.

The Nepalese government put the number of injured at more than 14,350.

Overwhelmed and disoriented, Sherman and Ahrends describe their near-death experience, surviving on snacks they found at a stopover in the mountain.

Arhends says they are still traumatised and haven't had time to grasp what happened to them.

"We panicked, ran towards the mountain and covered our heads."

The couple says they are just happy to be alive after being stuck in Langtang for several days watching how villages had been destroyed and people being killed.

They are safe at the Gift of the Givers base in Kathmandu but it's unclear when they will be going home to Cape Town.

Two other South Africans who were hiking in the mountains when the disaster hit, have decided to continue with their travels and not to join the Gift of the Givers.

Australian sisters have also been assisted by the South African aid group after their attempts to seek help at their country's embassy in Kathmandu failed.

WATCH: SA couple survive earthquake.


Nepalese Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said the country would need $2 billion to rebuild homes, hospitals, government offices and historic buildings and appealed for international backing.

"This is just an initial estimate and it will take time to assess the extent of damage and calculate the cost of rebuilding," Mahat told Reuters.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala told Reuters earlier this week the death toll from the quake could reach 10,000.

That would surpass the 10,000 who died in a 1934 earthquake, the last disaster on this scale to hit the nation sandwiched between India and China.

Home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said that though the 1934 quake was more powerful, fewer people lived in the Kathmandu valley then.

"The scale of reconstruction will be unprecedented," Dhakal said.

While international aid has poured in, some Nepalis have accused the government of being too slow to distribute it.

"There have been cases where villages have pelted stones on trucks carrying aid and food supplies. They must have been really hungry and angry to do so," said Purna Shanker, who works at the government's commodity trading office.

In Sundarkhula, a village close to the quake's epicentre west of Kathmandu, villagers said they were searching their destroyed homes for food.

Additional reporting by Reuters.