WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP)–Palm Beach Atlantic students stranded by upheaval in Nepal returned safely to the United States early Sunday morning, June 10, said Ken Mahanes, vice president for religious life at the college. The 16 students who had flown into Nepal the previous Sunday for rest after a three-week mission trip to Calcutta, India, were caught up in riots responding to the country’s royal family massacre the week before and had the flee the country earlier than expected.
Mark Kaprive, assistant director of campus ministries, told Baptist Press that Jared Landreth, graduate student assistant in missions at the Christian college, led the weary student missionaries from the Nepal airport on Friday afternoon, June 8, fearing further rioting pending an announcement from the country’s newest king. Originally scheduled to leave Nepal on Tuesday, June 12, the team also left on Friday to avoid an impending strike from a Korean airline, he said.
The students traveled in two separate groups back to the United States, Kaprive said. “They were a little tired, but safe and sound,” he said.
The students from the West Palm Beach, Fla., college had been cooped up in their hotels for three days to avoid the street rioting in response to the killings June 1 of King Birendra and nine other royal family members. Immediately after arriving into Nepal, the team had to travel to their hotel on foot, avoiding the flying debris and tear gas, according to a Jun. 6 Naples (Fla.) News report.
On Wednesday, the noon-to-midnight curfew was lifted and the students were able to leave the hotel for a few hours to shop for souvenirs, Kaprive said. Nonetheless, the travelers remained close to the hotel until their departure on Friday.
Throughout the ordeal, college officials kept in contact with the group and with the U.S. Embassy in Nepal. Though the parents anxiously waited the arrival of the students, they really did not panic or worry, said Kaprive.
“Jared did a great job of keeping everyone informed of everything,” Kaprive added, explaining that students’ parents received the same e-mails from Landreth that he did.