Oct 16, 2014 5:43 AM

Nepal blizzard, avalanche death toll rises to 25

The Associated Press

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) Search and rescue teams flying on army helicopters spotted the bodies of eight more trekkers killed in a series of blizzards and avalanches that have hit central Nepal in recent days, raising the death toll in the region to 25, officials said Thursday.

About 70 people were still missing along or near the popular Annapurna trail, said Ganga Sagar Pant of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, and the death toll there was expected to rise.

The route, 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of the capital, Katmandu, was filled with international hikers because October is peak trekking season, when the air is clear and the weather is cool. There were also many Nepalese on the trails because of local festivals.

At least 12 people died when they were caught in a sudden blizzard Tuesday in the Thorong La pass area.

As the weather improved, rescue workers recovered the bodies of four hikers two Poles, an Israeli and a Nepali from around Thorong La. Two trekkers from Hong Kong and 12 Israelis were airlifted Wednesday to Katmandu, where they were being treated at Shree Birendra Hospital.

The blizzard, the tail end of a cyclone that hit the Indian coast a few days ago, appeared to contribute to an avalanche Wednesday that killed at least eight people in Phu village in the neighboring Manang district. The dead included one Indian and four Canadian trekkers as well as three villagers, said government official Devendra Lamichane. The villagers' bodies were recovered Wednesday, he said.

But digging out the foreigners' bodies, which are buried in up to two meters (6 feet) of snow, will take days, he said. Three Canadian trekkers who survived the avalanche were taken by helicopter to a shelter in a nearby village. No update was immediately available on their condition.

Meanwhile, authorities said five climbers were killed in a separate avalanche some 75 kilometers (46 miles) to the west, at the base camp for Mount Dhaulagiri. The climbers, two Slovaks and three Nepali guides, were preparing to scale the 8,167-meter (26,800-foot) -high peak, the world's seventh tallest, said Gyanedra Shrestha of Nepal's mountaineering department. Their bodies were recovered Thursday.

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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