Nepal Ends Rescue Efforts After Deadly Avalanches In Himalayas

October 20, 2014

Nepal has ended rescue operations for people who may have been trapped or died in blizzards and avalanches last week throughout the foothills of Nepal’s Himalayan mountain range. Locals and international tourists are among at least 39 people known to have died. Rescuers say those killed include four Canadians, two Poles, an Israeli, an Indian and a Nepali.

The Associated Press reports that officials believe no more people are stranded:

“The last rescue helicopters hovered over Mustang, Manang and Dolpa districts on Monday, said Yadav Koirala of Nepal’s Disaster Management Division. All the casualties were in those three districts northwest of the capital, Katmandu.

” ‘We believe that all the trekkers and guides have been helped and as far as we know there are no more people stranded on the route,’ Koirala said, adding that some soldiers would remain camped out in the area.”

More than four feet of snow fell in the area from Oct. 14 to Oct. 15. As we reported at the time, the bad weather has been linked to cyclone Hudhud, which hit land on the eastern coast of India.

The Washington Post reports that the weather for hiking in the region is usually good in October:

“The deaths of so many trekkers on this route was unprecedented, as thousands of foreigners usually attempt to trek the circuit in October, which is considered a favorable month for climbing and is not generally known for severe weather that would create dangerous conditions.”

Many of the affected hikers were on or around the Annapurna trekking route in the Annapurna range of the Himalayas. Mount Annapurna is the world’s 10th-highest peak and one of the most popular high-altitude treks in Nepal.

According to The Wall Street Journal, about 20 people have died in each of the past five years trekking and mountaineering in Nepal.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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