Nepal avalanche death toll rises to 25; about 70 still missing

Nepal avalanche death toll rises to 25; about 70 still missing

Search and rescue teams have found the bodies of eight more trekkers killed in a series of blizzards and avalanches in central Nepal in recent days, raising the death toll to 25.

The figure is expected to rise, with about 70 people still missing along or near the popular Annapurna trail, according to Ganga Sagar Pant of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal.

The route, 100 miles north-west of the capital, Katmandu, was filled with international hikers because October is peak trekking season, when the air is clear and the weather is cool.

There were also many Nepalese on the trails because of local festivals.

At least 12 people died when they were caught in a sudden blizzard on Tuesday in the Thorong La pass area.

As the weather improved, rescue workers recovered the bodies of four hikers - two Poles, an Israeli and a Nepali – from around Thorong La.

Two trekkers from Hong Kong and 12 Israelis were airlifted Wednesday to Katmandu, where they were being treated at Shree Birendra Hospital.

The blizzard, the tail end of a cyclone that hit the Indian coast a few days ago, appeared to contribute to an avalanche Wednesday that killed at least eight people in Phu village in the neighbouring Manang district.

The dead included one Indian and four Canadian trekkers as well as three villagers, said government official Devendra Lamichane. The villagers’ bodies were recovered on Wednesday, he said.

Digging out the foreigners’ bodies, which are buried in up to 6ft of snow, will take days, he said.

Three Canadian trekkers who survived the avalanche were taken by helicopter to a shelter in a nearby village.

Meanwhile, authorities said five climbers were killed in a separate avalanche some 46 miles to the west, at the base camp for Mount Dhaulagiri.

The climbers - two Slovaks and three Nepali guides - were preparing to scale the 26,800ft peak, the world’s seventh tallest, said Gyanedra Shrestha of Nepal’s mountaineering department. Their bodies were recovered on Thursday.

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 say rising global temperatures have contributed to avalanches in the Himalayas.

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