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Oct 16, 2014 12:41 AM

More bodies in Nepal up blizzard death toll to 20

The Associated Press

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) Nepal army rescuers in helicopters spotted eight more bodies of trekkers along a mountain trail that was buried in avalanches and blizzards, raising the death toll to 20, while five more climbers were missing on another mountain, officials said Thursday.

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.

In neighboring Manang district, an avalanche on Wednesday killed an Indian and four Canadian trekkers in Phu village, said government official Devendra Lamichane. Digging out the bodies would take days, he said.

The other dead included three villagers in the same district, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of the capital, Katmandu, whose bodies were recovered Wednesday.

Separately, five trekkers were missing after an avalanche hit Mount Dhaulagiri as climbers at the base camp were preparing to scale the 8,167-meter (26,800-foot) -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.

Police chief Govind 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 Katmandu.

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 neighboring India several days ago.

October is the most popular trekking season in Nepal, with thousands of foreigners hiking in the Himalayan mountains.

An avalanche in April just above the base camp on Mount Everest killed 16 Nepalese guides, the deadliest single disaster on the mountain. Climate experts say rising global temperatures have contributed to avalanches in the Himalayas.


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