KATHMANDU (AFP) – Nepal’s prime minister has pledged to set up a weather warning system after a major Himalayan snowstorm killed 32 people at the height of the trekking season, 17 of them tourists.
Forecasters had predicted the snowstorm, but many walkers appeared to have been caught unawares and were heading to an exposed high mountain pass that forms part of the popular Annapurna Circuit trekking route when it struck.
Keshav Pandey of the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) said it was the worst loss of life in a single day for trekkers, guides and porters in the country and called for a better system to warn tourists.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala pledged to provide better weather information in tourist areas, saying the loss of life was “extremely tragic at a time when worldwide weather updates are available every second”.
“I want to assure that the government will make efforts to establish early warning centres for weather in the important spots across the country, especially in the Himalayan areas and along rivers,” he said in a statement Thursday.
On Friday, emergency workers on foot and in helicopters resumed their search for survivors, rescuing seven more people, including two tourists, a day after they airlifted more than 150 to safety, officials said.
They also recovered the body of a Nepalese porter from under the ice, taking the toll to 32, including 24 trekkers on the Annapurna circuit and five climbers on a mountain in the area.
Local official Tulsiram Bhandari told AFP that the bodies of the two Slovakian mountaineers and their three Nepalese guides, killed when an avalanche struck the base camp of the 8,167-metre Mount Dhaulagiri, had now been found.