12 dead after avalanche and blizzard conditions hit Nepal

Twelve people, including foreign trekkers, have died after an avalanche and blizzard conditions in Nepal’s mountainous north, officials have said.

An avalanche buried four Canadians and one Indian trekker in Phu, said Devendra Lamichane, chief administrator of Manang district.

The snow buried the trekkers’ bodies and digging them out would take days, he said.

Three villagers were killed on Monday in the same district, about 100 miles north-west of the capital, Katmandu, and their bodies were recovered on Wednesday.

In the neighbouring Mustang district, four trekkers caught in a blizzard died on Tuesday. Rescuers recovered the bodies of the two Poles, one Israeli and one Nepali trekker from the Thorong La pass area.

It was initially thought the group had been caught in an avalanche, but government official Yam Bahadur Chokyal said by telephone from Mustang that the four trekkers instead had been caught in the blizzard and died.

He said another 14 foreign trekkers have been rescued so far, and two army helicopters are picking up injured trekkers and flying them to Jomsom town.

Mr Chokyal said it is not possible to say how many trekkers are still on the route stranded by the deep snow but several of them have reached safe ground on Wednesday because of improved weather.

The rain and snow in Nepal were caused by a cyclone that hit neighbouring India several days ago.

October is the most popular trekking season in Nepal, with thousands of visitors hiking around Nepal’s Himalayan mountains.

The Thorong La pass is also on the route that circles Mount Annapurna, the world’s 10th highest peak.

An avalanche in April just above the base camp on Mount Everest killed 16 Nepalese guides, the deadliest single disaster on the mountain.

Climate experts claim rising global temperatures have contributed to avalanches on the Himalayan mountains.

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