Officials said twelve people, including foreign trekkers, have been killed in an avalanche and blizzard in Nepal’s mountainous north, as weather conditions improved.
On Wednesday, October 15, an avalanche buried four Canadians and one Indian trekker in Phu, said chief administrator of Manang district, Devendra Lamichane. The heavy snow engulfed the trekkers’, meaning digging them out would take a number of days.
Two days ago, three villagers were killed in the same area, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of the capital Katmandu. Their bodies were recovered on Wednesday.
Four trekkers in the bordering Mustang district died Tuesday after being caught in a severe blizzard. Rescuers recovered the bodies of the two Poles, one Israeli, and one Nepali trekker from the Thorong LA pass area.
Officials initially believed that 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 trapped in the blizzard and died.
Chokyal noted that another 14 foreign trekkers have been rescued so far, in addition to two army helicopters that were picking up injured trekkers and flying them to Jomsom town.
He said it was not possible to know for sure how many trekkers were still on the route stranded by the powerful snow, although a few of them were able to reach safe ground on Wednesday because of improved weather.
The rain and snow in Nepal were the result of Cyclone Hudhud, which hit neighboring India’s eastern coast during the weekend. Heavy downpours due to the cyclone also affected other parts of central and western Nepal, including hilly Gorkha district, where a 67-year-old French trekker slipped and fell into the Budhi Gandaki River.
“The accident happened around 9 am on Tuesday… we think it was because the track was slippery due to recent heavy rains. Rescue operations are ongoing,” Gorkha police chief Ramesh Thapa told AFP.
October is marked as the busiest trekking season in Nepal, with thousands of foreigners hiking Nepal’s Himalayan mountains. The Thorong La pass is also on the trail that surrounds Mount Annapurna, the world’s 10th highest peak.
In April, 16 Nepalese guides were killed just above the base camp on Mount Everest, making it the deadliest single disaster on the mountain to date. Climate experts argue that rising global temperatures have contributed to recent avalanches on the Himalayas.