Relieved families welcomed 150 passengers flying into Birmingham from earthquake-torn Islamabad at the city's airport yesterday evening.
The arrivals hall was packed with people waiting as the Pakistan International Airlines flight touched down, about half an hour earlier than the scheduled 4.05pm.
Rahmat Ali Khan, chief flight attendant on the PIA service, said the mood on the plane had been sombre.
"People are very upset, very sad. There is sadness all over the country.
"There is a big problem in Pakistan, it is very bad and the roads are now being washed away with very heavy rain."
Rasheed Khan said he was outside his house when the tremor began.
"I saw my house shaking and the road was kind of bubbling. I ran inside and told my wife and daughter-in-law to come outside because it was safer.
"My house was OK but my brother's has been very badly damaged."
Taxi driver Javed Khan had been visiting family in Pakistan for the past two months.
The 56-year-old, from Hall Green, said: "I was in a shop doing some shopping and it was truly terrifying.
"It shook me up for at least 15 minutes and in the Kashmiri cities it was even worse."
There were similar scenes at airports across the country as travellers returned with tales of horror.
At Manchester Airport, Lubna Ramzan, aged 19, a hairstylist from Bradford, who had been visiting relatives in Bindi, five miles outside Islamabad, said: "I was in bed and the earthquake woke me up. The whole bed was shaking and shuddering from side to side. I thought I was going crazy.
"All the windows shattered and there was a lot of screaming. It seemed to last for ages.
"My aunt came in the room to see if I was okay. All the walls had big cracks in them. There were aftershocks all during the day.
"The worst was driving to the airport through the city.
"There were people camped in parks and others going through the wreckage of buildings to get their belongings."
Mahmood Khalid, aged 41, a restaurant owner from Bradford, was visiting relatives in Mipur, Kashmir, with his son, Usman, aged nine, and ten-year-old daughter, Sofia.
He said: " It was very frightening. All the buildings were moving from side to side and shaking. Our house survived but there were a lot of flattened buildings and two mosques collapsed.
"Everyone ran into the roads. The whole town was blocked."
Sajid Akram, aged 25, from Blackburn, was in Azad Kashmir to bring his wife back to the UK.
He said: "I was just sat outside my house and it was terrifying. The ground was shaking and I didn't know what it was for five or six seconds.
"I have lived in England all my life and have never come across anything like it. There was a lot of damage caused.
"The roads were split wide open and the towers of the mosques had fallen down. There were aftershocks every 40 minutes or so after the quake."
Others flying out to Pakistan were fearful of the harrowing scenes which faced them.
Ali Andrabi, aged 24, a banking student at Guildhall University in central London, said: "I'm not getting through on the phone to many of my family members as just about all the lines are down. It's very worrying."
He said he had heard that his mother and sister, who live in Muzaffarabad, had survived the quake but he had so far failed to make contact with more than 100 members of his extended family.
"Some family friends have died, whole families have died," he said.
"I'm very upset. I visited Muzaffarabad recently. There was a lot of development going on. And it's gone now. It's very distressing for me. Muzaffarabad was a beautiful city."
He added: "I spoke to a friend of mine today and he said people, some of them children, are under the rubble, stuck underneath the ground. People can hear them crying."
He said Muzaffarabad's military hospital has been destroyed by the quake.
Inam Khan, aged 32, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was seeing off his uncle, Sharif Khan, aged 52, from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, also flying out in the hope of finding relatives alive. Mr Khan (the younger) said: "The sheer scale of the devastation has jolted everyone."