FPCU Moderator Returns from Nepal Hours Before Earthquake Strikes Region

Students practice earthquake drill at Jana Bikash Secondary School, in Matatirtha, Kathmandu District, is in the process of being redeveloped to make the school more earthquake proof. As part of this process children are taught how to take shelter beneath their desks in case of an earthquake. Photo by Jim Holmes for AusAID. Creative Commons License.

Students practice an earthquake drill at Jana Bikash Secondary School, in Matatirtha, Kathmandu District. The school is in the process of being redeveloped to make it more earthquake proof. As part of this process children are taught how to take shelter beneath their desks in case of an earthquake. Photo by Jim Holmes for AusAID. Creative Commons License.

KATHMANDU, Nepal—The Rev. John Greer, moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland (FPCU), the sister denomination to the Free Presbyterian Church of North America (FPCNA), returned from Nepal late last night, only a few hours before a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck the country west of Kathmandu, the capital city, collapsing some buildings and killing some people, early reports say.

Greer tried to reach Rev. Wesley Graham, an FPCU missionary visiting the capital city,  shortly after the quake happened, but was unable to contact him.  Later George McConnell, an executive officer of the FPCU mission board, was able to reach Paul Thapa, the moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Nepal (FPCN). McConnell later called Greer who then made a personal phone call to Thapa.

“They were actually having their church service and had finished when the ‘shocker,’ as they called it, struck,” Greer said. “They said they had a wee bit of damage to one wall on their building there, but everyone was okay.”

Greer said that Thapa had heard unconfirmed reports that a lot of people were killed near the epicenter which sits between Kathmandu and Pokhara, a neighboring district. Some news reports say close to 600 people were killed in that area. “Paul Thapa also said some of the roads collapsed,” Greer said.

“Wesley Graham mentioned to me while I was there that they felt a tremor a few days ago,” Greer said. “I didn’t feel the tremor because it was so slight, but Wesley did.”

According to news reports the quake happened at approximately 11am Nepalese time, 6am British time.