Tourist pitches in with locals and army to reach man buried in broken concrete.

Young Kiwi backpacker Doran Graham spent more than three hours smashing through concrete and moving debris to help rescue a man trapped under rubble in the Nepal earthquake.

The 19-year-old Wellington traveller came across a destroyed building in the Kathmandu tourist district of Thamel in the chaotic aftermath of the quake, which has left more than 5600 dead.

Mr Graham said people were already lifting away bricks and broken concrete, and were dragging people out of the debris.

"The first person I saw was completely lifeless and in my heart I just knew she was dead, even from 20 metres away."

When a survivor was seen, the rescuers decided to break a concrete wall to reach him.

"We used metal poles at first, which were already on scene, and then locals brought a few pickaxes and shovels."


For the next few hours the rescue party took turns at hitting the concrete, while aftershocks continued to pound the area.

"When these hit, many would yell, afraid, and scamper for the side of the pit - trying to get out. A few people watching would rush away too, but when it calmed down they returned.

"I had a plan to duck under a big layer of concrete if another building looked like it would collapse above us, or if the building we were working on wanted to move more and bury us."

After more than two hours, the group had made a big enough hole in the concrete and began to cut and bend back iron rods so they could climb down through the opening.

Mr Graham said they then started to remove about 3m of rubble sitting between them and the man.

"About the same time, a little after, about 50-60 soldiers arrived. They went into the hole and we made a human chain lifting out concrete, glass and heavy marble."

He said when they reached the trapped man, they realised his arm was pinned down by the rubble.

The soldiers then took over and asked people to leave as it was getting too crowded, Mr Graham said.

The trapped man was pulled out alive. Mr Graham said many of the Nepalese people, including the staff at his hostel, were now staying in parks or sleeping in cars.

"It's sad to see because a lot of them are now homeless, and there's a lot of people living in parks, and they're sick."

He had visited a nearby park and said it was "eye-opening and incredible" to see how friendly locals continued to be despite the devastation.

"[They are] still smiling, nodding and saying hello.

"Many generous locals [are] opening their stores to sell food and water even when their shops are in ruins. One young boy [is] even offering free accommodation for any foreigners and homeless - amazing."

Mr Graham said he was still a little shaken and on edge, and was having trouble sleeping. He was quick to point out, however, that he was a lot better off than most.

He planned to stay in Nepal for three weeks to help out with the recovery. Yesterday he was joining a Red Cross team in a nearby village to help build shelters, and had joined organisation All Hands Volunteers.

Morgan Tait: Relief worker taps social media to get supplies through

Reuben Harcourt has raised over $6000.
Reuben Harcourt has raised over $6000.

A young New Zealander has harnessed the support of social media to get food and supplies to a struggling Nepalese district.

Reuben Harcourt's fundraising efforts have helped to deliver more than 4.2 tonnes of food to people in Lalitpur, just 10km from Kathmandu but hard to reach after the huge earthquake.

"Sadly many in this area weren't so lucky and there are terrible stories surfacing ... every day about tragic losses of life and livelihood," he said.

Mr Harcourt, 23, from Wellington was volunteering at an orphanage when the quake hit. He stayed on to help the relief effort.

His campaign grew to a Givealittle online fundraising page. So far he has raised more than $6000.

He is using a motorbike to distribute medicine, clothes and blankets and has helped get 4.2 tonnes of rice, lentils, salt and cooking oil to distressed Nepalese.

"I am in a privileged position of being able to work with locals to ensure that 100 per cent of funds go exactly where they are needed most. This is a rare opportunity and I'm not going to waste it."

Global Volunteer Network operations manager Fiona Millar said Mr Harcourt's efforts would be a "lifeline" for the rural populations.

"Reuben clearly has a heart for the Nepali people, and is staying to see through the early relief phase with the communities he has built relationships with.

"It's been a sombre week for our organisation in learning the gravity of the recovery ahead for the communities we are partnered with.

"Reuben's work this past week, and the incredible support from the New Zealand community behind him, has been inspiring for us all."

To donate

World Vision:

Nepal Earthquake Appeal


0800 90 5000

Unicef: Visit or call 0800 243 575

Oxfam: Visit or call 0800 600 700

Red Cross: Visit or call 0800 RED CROSS (0800 733 276)

ChildFund New Zealand: Visit or call 0800 808 822

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand: Visit or call 0900 4 11 11

New Zealand Nepal Society: Donations can be made to bank account number 01-0142-0053378-00

Himalayan Trust Rebuild Appeal: Visit
TEAR Fund: Visit or call 0800 800 777

Global Volunteer Network