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Death Toll In Himalayan Avalanches Reaches 29

Soldiers prepare to airlift an avalanche victim Wednesday in the area of Thorong La pass in Nepal. Authorities now say the death toll from a freak blizzard and avalanches in the Himalayas has reached 27. i

Soldiers prepare to airlift an avalanche victim Wednesday in the area of Thorong La pass in Nepal. Authorities now say the death toll from a freak blizzard and avalanches in the Himalayas has reached 27. Nepalese Armed Forces/AP hide caption

toggle caption Nepalese Armed Forces/AP
Soldiers prepare to airlift an avalanche victim Wednesday in the area of Thorong La pass in Nepal. Authorities now say the death toll from a freak blizzard and avalanches in the Himalayas has reached 27.

Soldiers prepare to airlift an avalanche victim Wednesday in the area of Thorong La pass in Nepal. Authorities now say the death toll from a freak blizzard and avalanches in the Himalayas has reached 27.

Nepalese Armed Forces/AP

Updated: 1:55 a.m. ET Friday:

Helicopters on Friday renewed their search for missing trekkers after there were improvements in the weather. Officials in Nepal say at least 29 people are dead — dozens more are missing or are stranded. The government also announced that officials would evaluate rescue efforts after the government was criticized for not doing more to help.

Original Post:

The death toll from unseasonal snowstorms and avalanches in Nepal that trapped dozens of trekkers on the slopes of the Himalayas has risen to 27, with 70 more still missing, Nepalese authorities say.

At least a dozen people are dead on the Annapurna Circuit, and 10 others have been killed in surrounding areas. Many of the dead are foreign trekkers from Canada, Poland, France, Israel, Slovakia and India. At least eight Nepalese are also among the casualties, the BBC says.

The Associated Press quotes Ganga Sagar Pant of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal as saying that some 70 people are still missing along or near the popular Annapurna trail, where the death toll was expected to rise.

The Guardian reports:

"High winds and blizzards hit much of central Nepal this week as the tail end of a cyclone travelling west across northern India reached the Himalayan mountain chain. The head of the Trekking Agencies Association Nepal said there had never been a disaster like it.

"The trekking group is reported to be trapped close to the 5,400m (17,700ft) Thorong La, a pass on the famous three-week Annapurna circuit route. Clear weather has raised hopes that they will be reached before further deaths, though there are concerns that members may be suffering exposure, frostbite and severe dehydration."

The AP says:

"Government administrator Yama Bahadur Chokhyal said rescuers recovered 10 more bodies from the Thorong La pass area, where they had been caught in a sudden blizzard Tuesday.

"The bodies were not yet identified.

"Chokhyal said 64 more foreign trekkers were rescued from the area on Thursday. Two trekkers from Hong Kong and 12 Israelis were airlifted Wednesday to Katmandu, where they were being treated at a hospital."

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