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DN-2014-10-15

Dödlig snöstorm i Nepal efter cyklon

Minst 20 människor har mist livet i Nepal som drabbats av ovanligt kraftiga snöfall. Lokala myndigheter försöker komma i kontakt med utländska turister och andra i området. Inga svenskar rapporteras som saknade efter ovädret.

Minst 20 människor har mist livet i Nepal som drabbats av ovanligt kraftiga snöfall. Lokala myndigheter försöker komma i kontakt med utländska turister och andra i området.
Inga svenskar rapporteras som saknade efter ovädret.

Minst 20 personer har mist livet när en kraftig snöstorm drog in över centrala Nepal. Över 100 personer i området saknas i distriktet Mustang, enligt lokal polis.

Den lokale polischefen Ganesh Rai säger att 168 turister registrerat sig för att vandra i det populära Annapurna-massivet den här veckan. Området, som ligger i den nepalesiska delen av Himalaya, lockar många vandrare i oktober då vädret brukar vara gynnsamt — men i år har Mustang drabbats av ovanligt kraftiga snöfall, delvis utlösta av cyklonen Hudhud som dragit in över grannlandet Indien. Enligt lokal polis föll 91 centimeter snö under onsdagen.

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Lokala myndigheter har inte kunnat få kontakt med 152 av de 168 utländska turisterna, men uppger att det även kan bero på att telefonmottagningen är dålig i området.

I angränsande distriktet Manang ska tre jakherdar ha mist livet i ett annat snöskred där, rapporterar nyhetsbyrån Reuters.

De svenska resebyråerna Läs och res, Världens resor och Pathfinder travels anordnar alla vandringar i Nepal, men har inga grupper i det drabbade området. UD har inte heller några uppgifter om att svenska turister ska ha befunnit sig i distriktet.

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– Vi har hittat tolv lik i Mustang, fyra av dem var utländska medborgare: två från Israel, en från Polen och en från Vietnam, säger polischefen Ganesh Rai till AFP.

BBC News 2014-10-16

Nepal: Annapurna Circuit snow and avalanche deaths reach 28

At least 28 people have died on a key Nepali hiking route, officials say, after blizzards struck at the height of the Himalayan climbing season.

There are fears the final toll will be higher. Nine bodies were found on Thursday and about 220 people have been rescued, but many are still missing.

Nepalese, Israeli, Canadian, Indian, Slovak and Polish trekkers are among those killed.

Severe rain and snow in Nepal appear linked to a recent cyclone in India.

Tuesday's exceptional weather was said to be part of the remnants of Cyclone Hudhud.

Most of the deaths happened when a blizzard hit a point on the Annapurna Circuit, a well-known trekking route in central Nepal.

The bad weather hit a resting place 4,500m (14,800ft) above sea level, not far below the circuit's highest point, the Thorung La pass.

October is a popular trekking season and there were likely to have been many climbers on the passes.

Home Ministry officials said more people could have been saved and rescued if there had been an early warning against the snow storm, the BBC's Navin Singh Khadka in Kathmandu reports.

Two military helicopters were sent from the capital Kathmandu to assist the rescue operation on Wednesday and nine people were rescued overnight.

Many more were rescued in Thursday's search, with both private and military helicopters deployed.

Rescue operations were called off for the day when darkness fell on Thursday evening, but will resume again on Friday.

One survivor told BBC Nepali of the horror of seeing corpses on the journey back after the blizzard struck. He said he saw people falling into deep crevasses, unable to get out.

Another survivor, Linor Kajan, described her fear as she was caught in an avalanche.

"Personally I was sure I was going to die... I was stuck in snow."

She said she was unable to move until a Nepalese guide saw her and dragged her through the snow to safety.

This has been a deadly year for Nepal's trekking and mountaineering industry, which brings in huge revenues to Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries.

What is the Annapurna Circuit?

  • Roughly 241km (150 miles), takes around three weeks to complete
  • Described as "the best long distance trek in the world"
  • Ascends to 5,416m (17,776ft) at the Thorung La Pass
  • Opened to tourists in 1977 after conflicts between guerrillas and the Nepalese army were resolved
  • Circuit passes Mount Annapurna, world's 10th highest mountain and one of the most dangerous

An avalanche on Mount Everest in April killed 16 Sherpa guides and resulted in a massive reduction of expeditions to the world's highest peak.

The latest disaster comes during the peak trekking period. Thousands of tourists head to Nepal in October, many to enjoy its high altitude mountain passes and pristine beauty. But this freak heavy snowfall caught the trekkers off guard.

Nepal's high peaks attract some of the world's best climbers - but trekking is generally safe and appeals to masses of ordinary outdoor enthusiasts.

 

BBC Radio 4 2014-10-17

Nepal blizzards: Trekkers 'herded to deaths', claims survivor

A British survivor of a Himalayan storm which killed at least 29 people has claimed trekkers were "herded to their deaths" by ill-equipped guides.

Paul Sherridan, 49, a police sergeant from Doncaster, was among 230 trekkers who escaped Wednesday's blizzards and avalanches in Nepal's Annapurna range.

He said a bad weather forecast meant they should have been prevented from going up the mountain.

"They were herded up that mountain to their death," he told BBC Radio 4.

Most of the deaths happened when a blizzard hit a point on the Annapurna Circuit, a well-known trekking route in central Nepal.

The bad weather hit a resting place 4,500m (14,800ft) above sea level, not far below the circuit's highest point, the Thorung La pass.

Rescuers are still searching the range looking for more survivors, who are believed to be stranded in lodges and huts. Hiking remains difficult because of waist-deep snow.

'Disgusting folly'

The Nepalese government has announced a high-level committee with two senior ministers to monitor and co-ordinate rescue efforts, in what is expected to be the country's worst mountaineering tragedy.

Mr Sherridan, of Harlington, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, was half way through a month-long trip with his lifelong friend Steve Wilson when the storm struck.

He said: "My view is that this incident could have been prevented. I knew the weather forecast before I set off.

"Having spoken to my guide, who wasn't there but obviously has been there, they say that the weight that the porters carry is so great that they leave their own personal safety equipment behind to lighten their load. That to me is an absolute disgusting folly.

"All they are doing is leading people to a certain death, and themselves.

"If someone had taken the responsibility just to stop people going up there, I'm sure the fatalities would have been a lot less."

He said walkers were left stumbling through "an abyss of nothing" as dense snow left them unable to orient themselves.

"Somebody shouted - and I believe it was one of the guides - 'Move forwards. Move forwards," said Mr Sherridan.

"But as we moved forwards, conditions worsened and we became involved in blacked-out conditions where the ground became the same colour as the sky and it was difficult to see which way was up and which way was down.

"As I descended this abyss of nothing, I realised that the people I was following didn't know where they were. It was at that point that I realised I had gone from a place of safety into an absolute position of fear and sheer terror."

He said it was only when he glimpsed a pole through the white-out that he was able to find a route to safety.

"We picked our way down for two hours through this maze of poles that sometimes we couldn't see for minutes on end, but it seemed to bring some sort of calmness and order to affairs.

"It was around that time that I heard the rumble of an avalanche and I heard the large thunder and roar of snow falling and I just knew, due to the number of people, that there were going to be fatalities. It was horrific."

Mr Sherridan's daughter Hannah, 23, said her father and Mr Wilson had planned the trekking trip to celebrate turning 50 next year.

"They'd wanted to do this all their lives, it was a trip of a lifetime," she said.

"Now I'm just looking forward so much to having him back."

 

BBC News 2014-10-19

Nepal Annapurna: Rescuers in final search for survivors

Rescue teams in Nepal say they are making a final search for survivors on a popular Himalayan trekking route that was hit by a devastating storm.

It is the fifth day that Nepalese army and private helicopters have been searching for stranded climbers.

It is not clear how many people may still be missing in the country's worst-ever trekking disaster.

At least 39 people are known to have died, and nearly 400 people have been rescued from the Annapurna trail.

The BBC's Andrew North in Kathmandu says that the focus is increasingly on recovering bodies still buried in the snow - and improving the flow of information on those caught up in the disaster.

The trail is very high and covers a very large area, and some trekkers who escaped the storm have got into trouble as they tried to hike down a few days later.

There are currently three different lists of the dead and survivors, being run by the army, the home ministry and Nepal's trekking association and some people may have been counted twice.

The authorities say they now want to create just one single list.

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Nepalese, Japanese, Israeli, Canadian, Indian, Slovak, Vietnamese and Polish trekkers are said to be among the dead.

Many survivors have been left with severe frostbite and will have to have limbs amputated.

A trekking expert told the BBC that the storm, which struck on Wednesday, was the worst in a decade, and saw up to 1.8m of snowfall in 12 hours.

Ynetnews 141020

KATMANDU - Nepalese officials closed a section of a popular Himalayan trekking route Sunday after rescuers, overwhelmed with last week's snowstorms that killed at least 38 hikers, had to bring to safety new climbers who set out on the same mountain trails where the blizzards struck.

The dead from the blizzards and avalanches that hit the upper section of the Annapurna Circuit in northern Nepal included foreign trekkers, local guides and villagers. Most among the hundreds of trekkers who had been stuck in the snow have been brought to safety, and government official Yama Bahadur Chokhyal said rescue helicopters were winding down flights.

As the weather cleared, new climbers were already making their way up the same trail despite obvious dangers, prompting the government to close the route, Chokhyal said.

"Our rescuers and helicopters ended up having to bring down these new people while we were still trying to reach the ones who were stranded by the blizzard," he said.

"It was burdening and confusing the rescuers so they had to be stopped," he said.

The route was deemed unsafe and invisible in many sections because of the snow dumped by the blizzard.

On Sunday, rescuers turned to villagers familiar with the rugged, snow-clad terrain in the hunt for trekkers stranded in isolated areas, but hopes of finding survivors among as many as 40 missing people were fading.

More than 500 people have been rescued from a route popular with foreign adventure tourists that circles Annapurna, the world's tenth-tallest peak, among them 230 foreigners.

"We are not clear where the missing people are and whether they are safe or not safe," Yadav Koirala, the chief of Nepal's disaster management authority, told Reuters in Kathmandu, the capital.

"We can only hope and pray that they are not dead."

Army helicopters continued to search for survivors on parts of the trail at an altitude of more than 5,000 metres (16,400 feet). Soldiers fanned out through some of the most treacherous terrain where helicopters cannot land.

The death toll from last week's disaster - the worst in Nepal's recent history - went up Saturday after a rescue helicopter spotted nine more bodies. Survivors said many victims perished trying to descend from the trail's highest pass in freezing, whiteout conditions.

Ram Chandra Sharma of the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal, who is also coordinating the rescue operation, said there were no immediate plans to retrieve the bodies believed to be of Nepalese porters at the Shanta pass area, located at an altitude of 5,100 meters (16,730 feet).

The steep terrain made it impossible for the helicopter to land to pick up the bodies, said Yadav Koirala from the Disaster Management Division in Katmandu.

So far, 25 of the fatalities have been identified, including those from Canada, India, Israel, Slovakia, Poland and Japan. Eight of the dead were Nepalese. Thirteen others have not yet been identified,

The snowstorms were whipped by the tail end of a cyclone that hit the Indian coast a few days earlier. The blizzards swept through the Annapurna trekking route and hikers were caught off-guard when the weather changed quickly.

Most of the people were on or near the Annapurna Circuit, a 220-kilometer (140-mile) trail through the mountain, the 10th-highest in the world. The biggest number of casualties was among those caught in the blizzard on Thorong La pass, which is one of the highest points on the Annapurna.