SUZHOU, China, April 26 (Xinhua) -- The Nepalese athletes who are competing at the world table tennis championships awoke to the worst possible news on Sunday as information filtered out of their homeland about a 8.1-magnitude earthquake that struck near Kathmandu.
A total of 2,152 people have been killed and about 5,000 others injured in a powerful earthquake that struck Nepal at midday Saturday.
Obviously the Nepalese players in Suzhou are desperate to hear more details from home but Elina Maharjan and Nabita Shrestha had to try to focus on table tennis with the knowledge that their family and friends are at home facing calamity.
After losing to Greek duo Angeliki Papadaki and Alkaterini Toliou in a preliminary women's doubles match, a crying Mahrajan tried to put her feelings into words.
"It's hard to play. I just pray everyone is safe," she said. "Some people I know are hurt, and some friends are dead. It's very painful."
The quake jolted central, western, mid-western and far-western parts of Nepal, which was followed by at least 15 aftershocks, with the last one of 6.7 magnitude occurred just hours ago.
Thankfully for Maharjan though, she has heard from her family and knows that they are alive and out of danger.
Shrestha has been hit hard too, her family escaped death, but they know there can still be more dangerous aftershocks.
"It affected me, of course, because now there are 72 hours of critical conditions. There could be another earthquake strike at any time and my parents and my family are staying (outside in a tent), so it is quite difficult," she said.
"I've played under stress, but not under this kind of extreme stress, thinking about my family who are staying in a tent and cooking outside, and how they get the food because everything has been destroyed."
Another Nepalese player Deep Saun said the uncertainty and lack of information from his homeland affected him in his qualification loss to Laurens Tromer of the Netherlands, but he too was relieved to find out he did not lose any family members.
"It has affected our play because it's been a bad time in Nepal right now," said Saun. "I think it's bad but we are here to represent Nepal and we will try to play our best."
International Table Tennis Federation President Thomas Weikert is planning to meet with some Nepalese players and coaches to extend condolences from the table tennis community.
Before doing so he spoke to the table tennis world championships news service.
"It's really an incredible situation, a really, really bad situation," he said. "The pictures on the television are really devastating. No one can imagine what's happening there."
"We should do something for them, for the table tennis players, to support them."