Search teams are still searching for stranded foreign trekkers in Nepal after Cyclone Hudhud hit the Indian coast earlier in the week. The deadly storm, combined with raising global temperatures, contributed to a series of deadly avalanches in the Himalayas. Although the exact number of missing trekkers is unknown, according to officials, the death toll continues to rise, reaching 25 as of Thursday.
With October being the peak hiking season, the route, located at 160 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu, was filled with international hikers. Those killed include three Nepali herders, three Nepali guides, two people from Slovakia, three Israelis, three Polish citizens and the four Canadians.
On Thursday, several survivors said that they dived under a large boulder when the avalanche hit. The group’s guide, Kusang Sherpa, described how the incident unfolded. After hearing the sound of snow splitting, he and three other trekkers dove behind a rock. Although the snow did not reach the boulder, the group stayed there for 20 minutes before walking to a nearby village to phone for help. They were picked up by a helicopter shortly afterward.
When describing the incident, Sherpa explained to Reuters how the avalanche swept away most of the team’s equipment, including several oxygen bottles.
One of the three survivors, a trekker named Sonia, simply heard a loud “boom” right before the disaster unfolded. Currently, an estimated 85 trekkers remain unaccounted for, but rescue workers remain hopeful.
On Wednesday, after taking part in a helicopter rescue, Gopal Babu Shrestha of the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal stated that the recent avalanche was probably one of the “worst mountaineering accidents” he could remember. From his vantage point on the flight, he describes his experience, witnessing brightly colored jackets and backpacks scattered along the mountain passes.
This marks the second major mountain disaster to occur in Nepal this year. In April, an ice-avalanche killed 16 guides on Mount Everest. Nepal’s climbing and trekking business is still recovering from the shock.