A snowstorm in the Himalayan region of central Nepal has killed at least 45 people, including eight foreigners and a group of local yak herders, while dozens of climbers remain unaccounted for, officials have said.
Improving weather conditions allowed rescue workers to recover the bodies of four trekkers – two Poles, an Israeli and a Nepali – from the Thorong La pass area on the Annapurna Circuit trekking trail on Wednesday, a day after they were caught in a blizzard, Al Jazeera reports.
Nepal army rescuers in helicopters spotted eight more bodies of trekkers along a mountain trail on Thursday, police chief Govind Pathak, said.
In neighbouring Manang district, an avalanche on Wednesday killed an Indian and four Canadian trekkers in Phu village, said Devendra Lamichane, a government official. Digging out the bodies would take days, he said.
The other dead included three villagers in the same district, about 160km northwest of the capital, Kathmandu, whose bodies were recovered on Wednesday.
Nepal’s trekking agency has said at least 85 climbers are still unaccounted for.
The missing included five trekkers who disappeared after an avalanche hit Mount Dhaulagiri as climbers at the base camp were preparing to scale the 8,167-metre-high peak, the world’s seventh tallest.
Two of the missing climbers are from Slovakia and three are Nepalese guides, said Gyanedra Shrestha of Nepal’s mountaineering department.
Pathak said attempts were being made to recover the additional eight bodies from the Annapurna mountain range’s Mustang district.
The death toll was likely to increase as officials reach other parts of the trail where the trekkers were caught by the deadly blizzard.
At least 14 foreign trekkers have been rescued so far, including two from Hong Kong and 12 Israelis who were being treated at the Military Hospital in Kathmandu.
Baburam Bhandari, the chief government administrator in the area, said dozens of people were still stranded on the route and were out of contact because of poor communication.
There are no roads there and the only way up is to trek in the snow-covered grounds to nearby villages.
Weather forecasters said the blizzard was caused by a cyclone that hit neighbouring India several days ago.