Nepal avalanche: Authorities now say 11 missing | The Daily Star
01:11 PM, January 19, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:14 PM, January 19, 2020

Nepal avalanche: Authorities now say 11 missing

Around 100 stranded tourists with their guides and porters have been rescued using helicopters

At least 11 people -- eight foreign tourists and three Nepali high altitude workers -- have gone out of contact in the Annapurna Base Camp and Manang area since Friday. The areas have been witnessing heavy snowfall for the past few days.

Four South Korean tourists and three Nepali workers who were trekking in the Annapurna region have gone out of contact. Police suspect that they might have gone missing after an avalanche struck the Hinku area in Annapurna Rural Municipality-11 at around 11:00am on Friday.

Him Gurung, the ward chairman, told the Post that the victims might have gotten buried in the avalanche.

“Whereabouts of the missing persons are not known. Rescue is not possible until the snow melts in the area,” said Gurung. A rescue helicopter, according to Gurung, reached the area on Saturday but could not land.

“Four South Korean tourists and three Nepali nationals are out of contact. The rescuers were unable to reach the area even on Saturday evening,” said Dan Bahadur Karki, superintendent of police in Kaski. Identities of the missing persons are yet to be ascertained.

The area has been seeing massive snowfall since Thursday night, which has made it difficult for authorities to carry out search operations. It takes a day to reach the area from the Ghandruk police unit, which is the nearest police base.

Around 100 people have been rescued from various places along the Annapurna Base Camp trekking route on Saturday. Three helicopters belonging to Simrik, Air Dynasty and Prabhu were used to rescue the stranded tourists and their Nepali guides and porters.

“We could rescue the stranded trekkers and their supporters as the weather improved on Saturday,” said Karki. Some of the trekkers were airlifted to Pokhara while others were taken to Chhomrong.

It is still not clear how many tourists and high altitude workers are in the Annapurna area for trekking and mountaineering.

Meanwhile, in Manang, four Chinese tourists heading towards Thorong La have gone out of contact.

“The Chinese trekkers were heading towards Upper Mustang. It is yet to be confirmed if they reached Mustang or not,” said Mekh Bahadur Kunwar, deputy superintendent of police in Manang. “They might still be at Yakkharka, Ledar or Thorang La base camp.”

Communication services in the area have been disrupted for the past few days due to heavy snowfall.

(Aash Gurung contributed reporting from Lamjung)

Copyright: The Kathmandu Post/ Asia News Network

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