Nepal to end trekker disaster rescue effort

Rescue operation draws to a close with all trekkers accounted for after freak storm killed 40 people.

    Nepal to end trekker disaster rescue effort
    An injured avalanche victim from Israel lies inside an ambulance to head home [AP]

    Rescue operations in the northern mountains of Nepal are due to end after all the hikers stranded because of a series of blizzards and avalanches were rescued. 

    Three more bodies, including one of an Israeli national, were recovered from the snow on Monday. More than 500 people have been evacuated so far.

    Nepal's Disaster Management Division confirmed to the Reuters news agency that they will be running the last flights for rescue and evacuation in the affected districts of Mustang, Manang and Dolpa on Monday. 

    At least 43 people, including trekkers from Nepal, Canada, India, Israel, Slovakia, Poland and Japan, have died in the deadly avalanche that swept the Himalayas last week.

    Thirty-four bodies have been identified so far and most of them have been flown to the nearby towns or the capital Kathmandu for autopsy.

    On Sunday, rescue workers recovered bodies of nine Nepalese porters from a mountain slope.

    A section of the popular Annapurna trekking circuit was also closed after a fresh group of hikers were found making their way into the avalanche-hit area.

    Unregistered trekkers

    There are serious concerns over the increasing number of climbers who visit the area each year, often without any formal training or experience on the mountains.

    It is better to have less tourists who pay more than thousands who come but flout rules.

    Mohan Krishna Sapkota, tourism ministry joint secretary

    The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), a government body that registers the entry and exit of tourists in the northwestern ranges of Nepal, said it had records of only 120 tourists on the trekking route when the blizzard hit even though more than 500 were rescued.

    "We had no idea that so many people were trekking there," ACAP officer Junu Thapa told Reuters.

    "Foreign tourists should register and not venture out on their own with local boys who pretend to be professional guides."

    The Nepal government has been accused of not issuing timely weather warnings.

    It said that it will crack down on unlicensed and inexperienced guides and stop the inflow of unregistered trekkers by making it mandatory for tourists to seek permission from district authorities before a trekking expedition.

    "It is better to have less tourists who pay more than thousands who come but flout rules," Mohan Krishna Sapkota, the tourism ministry's joint secretary, told Reuters.

    "This will not be tolerated any more."

    The snowstorms were triggered by the tail end of Cyclone Hudhud that had hit the coast of Eastern India last week as hikers were caught off guard by the quick change in the weather.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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