KATHMANDU (AFP) – Nine trekkers – eight foreigners and a local man – have been killed in a snowstorm and avalanche in Nepal’s Himalayas, officials said Wednesday, updating the death toll from four.
“A chopper search has located the bodies of five people, including four Canadians and an Indian, killed in an avalanche, bringing the total number of dead to nine,” police official Ganesh Rai, who is in charge of rescue efforts, told AFP.
Heavy snowfall sparked blizzards and avalanches on Tuesday in the remote Mustang and Manang districts near the highly popular Annapurna circuit.
Some 17 stranded trekkers were rescued after the weather cleared on Wednesday, but another 143 foreign tourists remain out of contact.
The five bodies were found in an area of Manang hit by an avalanche, while four bodies – two Poles, one Israeli and a Nepali – were found in Mustang following a snowstorm. Rescuers trudged through waist-deep snow as helicopters hired by trekking agencies and a Nepal army machine buzzed overhead, trying to locate those still unaccounted for. Thousands of trekkers visit the Annapurna region every October, when weather conditions are usually favourable for hiking trips.
However, Mustang and Manang have seen unusually heavy snowfall this week as a result of Cyclone Hudhud, which struck neighbouring India’s eastern coast at the weekend and caused widespread devastation there.