"Mayhem. Panic. Screaming."

Those were the words Canadian tourist Bruce Kennedy used to describe the scene in Kathmandu, Nepal on Saturday, after a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook the country and caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people.

Kennedy was one of at least 388 Canadians in the country at the time of the earthquake, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. However, officials say more Canadians could be there, since it only has records of those who voluntarily reported visits to the country.

Kennedy was standing in an underground pathway in Kathmandu's Thamel Market at the time the quake hit, just minutes before noon local time.

"All of a sudden, bricks started falling off buildings," he told CTV News Channel by phone on Saturday.

Kennedy says he sought shelter in the tunnel, but realized it was a bad idea when he recognized the severity of the quake.

"My fears mounted very quickly that the building would collapse on top of me because the shocks were so violent," he said.

Kennedy fell several times trying to escape the tunnel and sustained cuts and bruises in the ordeal, he said.

CTV Ottawa's Leanne Cusack, in the country with a charitable organization, was in a cab in Kathmandu when the quake struck.

"We didn't really feel the quake but we saw it happen all around us," she told CTV Ottawa.

Cusack said all the members from her Dream Mountains Foundation group made it safely back to their hotel during the ordeal.

Toronto native Reena Voora of World Vision Canada was in Bhaktapur, outside Kathmandu, when the earth shook. Buildings crumbled all around her, she said, describing how the shaking destroyed ancient pagodas and temples.

"The ground began to shake and suddenly all of the nearby buildings were moving," she said.

Canadians with friends or family in Nepal are being asked to contact the emergency centre at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took to Twitter to announce Canada's willingness to support Nepal through the disaster.


Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney said Canada will be ready to offer assistance once the Nepalese government determines what it requires.

"We will be on the alert to respond generously, as soon as there is an assessment of what kind of support and equipment they need," Kenney said on Saturday.

Several international aid groups have already taken steps to help Nepal. In a statement emailed to CTV News, a Plan International spokesperson says their workers are "on the ground and ready to respond." The aid group CARE says it also has people in the area. CARE is now appealing for donations to help with the relief effort.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the earthquake that struck near Kathmandu, Nepal:

“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our heartfelt condolences to the people of Nepal and northern India who lost family and friends in this powerful earthquake and its aftershocks. The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with the many affected by this disaster and we wish a speedy recovery to all those injured.

“Our officials in the region are working with Nepalese and Indian authorities to ensure that any Canadians affected by the earthquake are safe and accounted for. In cooperation with international partners, they are also assessing the needs of the affected populations to determine how Canada may most effectively assist with the disaster if asked to help.

“We mourn with the people of Nepal and India in the aftermath of this terrible natural disaster and offer our help and our prayers.

“Canadian citizens in Nepal requiring emergency consular assistance should use the Registration of Canadians Abroad (http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration) service, and contact the Consulate of Canada in Kathmandu, Nepal, by calling + 977 (1) 444-1976, or Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available). An email can also be sent to sos@international.gc.ca.

“Friends and relatives in Canada who are concerned about Canadian citizens known to be in the affected area should contact Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling 1-800-387-3124 (toll-free) or 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted) or sending an email to sos@international.gc.ca.”