Nepal’s worst trekking tragedy death toll climbs to 43
KATHMANDU: The number of people killed in a
devastating snowstorm in Nepal’s Himalayas climbed to 43 on Saturday, in the
worst trekking disaster ever to hit the mountainous country.
The Foreign Office has confirmed it has spoken to
concerned British families who have not heard from their relatives, though it
is not thought there are any Britons among the dead.
An unofficial list of trekkers suggests more than a
dozen Britons may have been in the area at the time of the storms, although
some of them have since been confirmed as safe or rescued.
More than 230 trekkers - most of them foreigners -
have been rescued since Wednesday and search teams continue to scour the
Annapurna range looking for more survivors, who may be sheltering in lodges and
Officials believe some people may be stranded in
waist-deep snow in remote locations where mobile phone signal is poor. The
skies were clear at the start of the week, said Gombu Sherpa, who was guiding a
group of Germans near the popular trekking circuit. But that changed suddenly
when the snow blew in.
“We could hardly see anyone, even within a couple of
feet. The wind was blowing snow and visibility was almost zero,” he said,
adding many people lost their way in the storm, but that everyone in his group
One of his assistants who was behind the group when
the storm hit was missing for an entire night, lost in the blizzard. “We found
him the next morning wandering in the snow. It is a miracle that he is alive,”
he said. Two trekkers from Hong Kong and 12 Israelis survived by taking refuge
in a small tea shop.
One of the Israelis, Yakov Megreli, said they tried to
stay awake to stay warm. “We tried not to sleep. We tried not to get
hypothermia. It was a very frightening and awful situation,” he said. A British
survivor has told how he escaped the disaster.
Paul Sheridan said walkers were left stumbling through
“an abyss of nothing” as dense snow left them unable to get their bearings on
the slopes of the mountain range in northern Nepal.
Sheridan said that trekkers should have been prevented
from going up the mountain, but were “herded to their deaths” by guides who he
alleged were not carrying the correct emergency equipment.
Friends of Briton Lizi Hamer, who was originally
unaccounted for, posted a message on Facebook announcing she had been found
safe. The 150-mile (240km) Annapurna circuit offers spectacular views of jagged
peaks and Buddhist villages.
It takes almost three weeks to complete and is
nicknamed the ‘apple pie’ circuit because of the teahouses lining the route
that offer cold beer and home baking.