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Farmington man asks Utahns not to forget Nepali people

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FARMINGTON — A Utah man who made it out of Nepal after Saturday's earthquake says the basic needs among the Nepalis are overwhelming — and he hopes the world won't forget about them too quickly.

Farmington resident Ryan Erickson said Thursday he feels a bond with the people and solidarity with their plight.

"My heart is just broken for the Nepali people," Erickson said. "They just need help. They need a lot of help right now."

Erickson had a lifelong goal of going to Mount Everest and hiking up to base camp. He made it with four friends four days before the earthquake struck.

"It was just so special to finally reach our goal and make it to base camp," he said.

The climbers returned to Kathmandu, and his friends flew out Friday. The next day, Erickson was eating breakfast, ready to fly home in a few hours, when "all of a sudden, the restaurant started shaking violently," he said.

As he ran outside, Erikson was met with chaos.

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"The road was buckling and bending, and everyone was stumbling to keep their footing," he said. "I saw at least one building collapse. I honestly thought that I could die."

Erickson headed for the airport with thousands of others. "That's when a few pretty big aftershocks started happening," he said.

He slept at the airport for three days, waiting to get out, and ate cookies and chips as relief planes arrived.

Erickson said he was grateful to have his camping gear — so many Nepalis now have only the clothes on their backs.

"People don't feel safe to go home and sleep in their homes. Everybody is sleeping out in the streets," he said.

The road was buckling and bending, and everyone was stumbling to keep their footing. I saw at least one building collapse. I honestly thought that I could die.

–Ryan Erickson

The country's tourist economy is shattered and many of its cultural treasures were destroyed.

"People are too scared," Erickson said. "So, (the Nepali people) are going to have to find another way to get a source of income."

Those people, Erickson said, bent over backwards to help the tourists, even with their own need so great.

"Anything we can do to help them is desperately needed," he said.

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