Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Relief at Son's Call from Quake Camp; Father of British Trekker Tells of Agonising 48-Hour Wait for News

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Relief at Son's Call from Quake Camp; Father of British Trekker Tells of Agonising 48-Hour Wait for News

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Morgan and Justin Davenport

THE father of a British graduate missing for 48 hours after the Nepal earthquake today told of his "enormous relief" after he called on a borrowed phone from a refugee camp in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Dr Paul Gerhardt, 66, director of education at the British Film Institute, only learned that his 24-year-old son Laurie was safe when he made contact yesterday afternoon from Dhunche, where 400 were waiting to be rescued.

Laurie had been trekking near the Langtang National Park with friend Joe Butchers, 23, when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck at lunchtime on Saturday. Dr Gerhardt, a former head of commissioning and controller of adult learning at the BBC, told the Standard: "It's an enormous relief. It's the worst thing any parent can experience. It's been a rollercoaster weekend. I was chasing things on social media but he obviously didn't have access to the internet at all.

"Then I got the phone call. He is in a camp with about 400 people waiting to be rescued, but the priority is the injured. Laurie said there were hundreds in Dhunche."

The number killed in the disaster has risen above 4,400, with more than double that number seriously injured. Around 50 Britons are feared missing but officials say many are likely to be stranded in remote areas and unable to call home. The Foreign Office said there were no reports of Britons dead or injured so far.

Dr Gerhardt said his son, a University of Sussex graduate, had been told he had to wait 72 hours after the earthquake before they could be sure there would be no more aftershocks. He added: "He hopes in the next day or two he can get back to Kathmandu and get to the airport. From what Laurie told me it was lucky that he and Joe were on high ground on a peak. They heard and felt the aftershocks and avalanches falling away from them."

Laurie's mother Susan Gerhardt, psychotherapist and author of parenting book Why Love Matters, said: "He's in a survivors' camp. …

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