Death toll passes 39 as freak snowstorms hit Annapurna region

Posted by Ed Douglas on 15/10/2014
The Thorung La, hit by storms on Monday. (File picture).

Heavy and unexpected snowfall struck Nepal on Tuesday as Cyclone Hudhud wreaked havoc in South Asia. With communications down and trails blocked by snow, the situation is still confused and information patchy. For those with family or friends in the area, there is an effort online to share information about missing trekkers and climbers.

The FCO recommends all travellers to check the situation before continuing with trekking plans. They are also recommending the families of missing persons to visit the website of the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal. There is a rolling news service detailing the latest rescue efforts.

TAAN reports that 117 people have been rescued so far, 70 from the Manang area and 47 from Mustang. Ten bodies have been brought down from the Kangla Pass-Phu area. They have yet to be indentified. Seven, including six foreigners, were flown from Muktinath.

Israeli survivors told the Nepali Times that their porter had persuaded them to take shelter during the storm. “We called the travel agency and embassy, and asked them to send helicopters. Until then, we were guided through the snow by our porter. They picked us up on the mountain and flew first to Muktinath before bringing us to Kathmandu,”  Maya Ora said.

Nepali media reported that among the dead from the Phu area, four were Canadians and one Indian. Three local yak herders also died. At least some of those who died in the Muktinath area were descending from the Thorong La when they got caught in heavy snowfall and include Israelis and Poles. Israeli survivors said many abandoned the hut after its owner offered to guide them down.

A search is underway at Dhaulagiri base camp for two missing Slovak climbers and three Nepali base camp staff. Eight Slovaks, two Germans and ten Nepali staff were rescued on Wednesday following an avalanche on Tuesday.

A French national was reported to have drowned in a swollen river in the Manaslu region. The deaths of two porters caught out by snow was also reported from the eastern district of Sankhuwasabha.

The death toll is expected to rise, although it’s unclear how many of those missing are in immediate danger. At least 24 people died as Cyclone Hudhud came ashore in the Indian state of Orissa.

An emergency control centre has been set up at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, which told Nepali media that four helicopters are involved in the rescue effort, which will resume on Friday morning. More bad weather is forecast for the weekend.

A group of concerned relatives have also set up a Facebook page sharing information about the disaster and the location of missing tourists.

Update from BBC


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1) Anonymous User
17/10/2014
I was on Thorung La a week ago in bright sunshine but even then you could see the seeds of this disaster, read more about this here
http://www.privateexpeditions.com/news-and-views/more-on-the-disaster-on-annapurna/

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