A TEACHER told how he had to run for his life when an earthquake struck Asia, killing at least 80 people, in September 2011.

Villages were swept away in mudslides, roads collapsed and homes were destroyed as the 6.9 magnitude quake hit India, Nepal and Tibet.

Jacob Home, 21, of Kirkby-in-Cleveland, North Yorkshire, was teaching English to a local girl and was about to have tea with her family when the quake hit the Himalayan city of Darjeeling.

Speaking from Roseberry Nursery School, in the centre of the damaged city, the former Stokesley Comprehensive pupil said: "It was a very strange and frightening experience.

"The lights went out within a few seconds and as it had been raining very heavily for over a week, I thought the building was going to be hit by a landslide.

"The noise was terrific – it sounded like a very fast train was rumbling past outside the building." Mr Home said when the walls and ceilings began to shake violently, he realised it was an earthquake.

"I thought the building was about to collapse. We ran outside as quickly as we could and were then told to get under the door frame because that was the safest place, " he said. The physics graduate, who arrived in Darjeeling earlier that month, said the children he was with were very nervous too, as there had not been an earthquake of that magnitude there since 1976.

The quake lasted for 45 seconds and was followed by aftershocks that measured 5.7 and 4.8.

Mr Home said the family he was with launched a torch-lit search when the shaking stopped and found everyone in the home had escaped injury and the building had suffered only minor damage.

However, the school, where Mr Home remained as a volunteer teacher until December, suffered structural damage and, along with all the schools in the area, was closed.

The school, which caters for Nepalese-speaking children who would otherwise not receive an education, was set up in 2007 by retired teacher Helen Jones, of Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, through her charity School Aid India.

Mrs Jones said it had been a great relief to learn all the school's pupils and staff were safe after hearing rescue workers in the Darjeeling area were struggling to reach victims.

When the earthquake struck, there was widespread panic at the nearby Darjeeling Sadar Hospital as patients, helped by their relatives and friends, rushed to the ground floor.

Other residents in the tea production centre left their doors open as they slept, fearing further aftershocks.

A solder from the North East who was nearly killed in a horrific rocket attack in Afghanistan became one of the rarest bionic men in history.

Corporal Andy Garthwaite, 24, became one of only a few people in the world to be fitted with an arm completely powered by the brain.

He underwent a three-day operation in Vienna, Austria, to have the prosthetic limb attached to his right arm.

But the soldier, from South Shields, faced a further 18 months learning to control his bionic limb – using only the power of the mind.

Cpl Garthwaite said: "I think there are only five people in the world fitted with such a limb. It works by electronic pulses, and it will take between 16 and 18 months for me to learn how to control it.

"The surgery is highly complex and will last three days, and I will be in rehabilitation until I can learn how to control the limb with my mind.

"I cannot get the exact cost of the operation, which will be paid for by the Army, but I believe it's in the region of £100,000."

Cpl Garthwaite's right arm was virtually severed when he took a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade while serving in Afghanistan in September 2010.

The attack killed a fellow soldier, and Cpl Garthwaite, who was saved after a daring rescue, also suffered wounds to his chest and eye and was left deaf in his right ear.

He become one of the first British military amputees ever fitted with the special bionic limb.

Finally, a firefighter struggled to control a blaze at the side of the road yesterday afternoon after a car transporter went up in flames on the A19.

The driver steered the vehicle to the side of the southbound carriageway, near the slip road for Easington, before escaping unhurt.