Photojournalist Narendra Shrestha was at home on Saturday when he felt the tremors of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck central Nepal, killing more than 1130 people.
“I thought I was going to die,” Shrestha tells TIME. “It was horrifying. How did I get out of this? This is my lucky day.”
As soon as the tremors began, his daughter started crying—she did not want him to leave their newly built home, which was left intact. But, Shrestha said to himself, “I should capture this. This is my job”
Shrestha, 40, a staff photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency based in Kathmandu, has worked in the region and across the world for 17 years.
Shrestha was stunned by the devastation after the quake. “Everybody is in shock,” he said.
Not far from his home in Thamel, the main tourist hub in Kathmandu, he came across a hotel under construction. An old home next to the hotel had collapsed, trapping an undetermined number of people. Shrestha estimated 40 construction workers were on site, actively searching for people who were trapped, when they found a man.
“All you could see was his head,” he said. “The rest of his body was buried.”
As they worked to uncover him it was apparent he was still alive.
With dust still in the air and a flurry of rescue workers and volunteers scrambling to find survivors, Shrestha captured the scenes of chaos before returning to his office to transmit his photos, as aftershocks continued to be felt across the region.
Shrestha also checked on his father—who has lived through numerous earthquakes. “He’s never seen anything like this,” he said
As night approached in Kathmandu, people were still in shock, he added. “Nobody is going to sleep in their homes tonight. I’m going to move my family outside. I’m just grateful my family is OK.”