100 bodies found in Nepal trekking village

Nepali police and local volunteers have found the bodies of about 100 trekkers and villagers buried in an avalanche set off by last month’s devastating earthquake. 

They were digging through snow and ice for signs of dozens more missing, officials said yesterday.

The bodies were recovered on Saturday and Sunday at the Langtang village, 60km north of Kathmandu, which is on a trekking route popular with Westerners. The entire village, which includes 55 guesthouses for trekkers, was wiped out by the avalanche, officials said.

“Local volunteers and police personnel are digging through six-feet [deep] snow with shovels looking for more bodies,” said Gautam Rimal, assistant chief district officer in the area where Langtang is located.

The dead include at least seven foreigners but only two have been identified, said Rimal.

It was not clear how many people were in Langtang at the time of the avalanche but other officials said about 120 more people could be buried under the snow.

“We had not been able to reach the area earlier because of rains and cloudy weather,” said Uddhav Bhattarai, the district’s senior bureaucrat.

The April 25 earthquake has killed 7,276 people and wounded more than 14,300, Nepal’s government said.

At least 18 of the deaths were on Mount Everest, where avalanches hit the slopes of the world’s highest peak. The government said yesterday that it had not closed the mountain to climbers, although the route up to the peak was damaged.

“Climbers at base camp don’t think the route will be fixed anytime soon,” said Tulsi Prasad Gautam, a senior official at Nepal’s tourism department. “It’s up to the climbers and the organisers who are at base camp to take a decision: we are not asking them to do one thing or another.”

Climbers pay €9,850 each to climb Everest, and 357 were registered for this climbing season. Last year, the government extended permits when teams abandoned their expeditions after an avalanche killed 16 Sherpa mountain guides.

Gautam, who said last Thursday that a team could repair the route through the treacherous Khumbu icefalls in a week, said yesterday that small tremors were still being felt on Everest.

Last week, climbing firm Himalayan Experience decided to abandon its ascent, becoming the last big team to do so.

In other parts of the country, three people were pulled alive from the rubble of their home on Sunday, eight days after the earthquake struck. US military aircraft and personnel arrived in Nepal late on Sunday and were due to help ferry relief supplies to stricken areas outside the capital, a US Marines spokeswoman said.

The contingent comprised eight aircraft, including one Huey and two C-130s, and between 100 and 120 personnel, spokeswoman Captain Cassandra Gesecki said.

The deployment is expected to ease the piling up of relief material at Kathmandu airport, Nepal’s only major airport.

The UN said it is looking at a wider array of options for getting supplies to people in the most remote areas, including transporting provisions on the ground through India.

The UN says 8m of Nepal’s 28m people were affected by the earthquake, with at least 2m needing tents, water, food, and medicines.

* Reuters


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