KATHMANDU: Nepal on Wednesday (Oct 22) called off a search for any more survivors of a Himalayan snowstorm that claimed 43 lives, after more than a week of scouring the popular trekking region. Emergency workers have airlifted 518 people to safety, including 310 foreign tourists, since the snowstorm struck the Annapurna Circuit during peak season, catching trekkers, their guides and porters unawares.
“We have decided to call off the operation for now, staying (on) stand-by if there is any information or calls for help,” senior tourism ministry official Suresh Acharya told AFP. “We have not received any additional information of trapped trekkers from the region,” he said.
Thirty-five bodies have been pulled from the snow since the storm hit last Tuesday, while rescuers believe another eight are still buried in Manang district, officials have said. “Rescue workers have dug over 10 feet (about 3m) deep in their search, but the bodies (of the eight) have not been found,” district official Devendra Lamichanne told AFP.
A team, from the Nepal Army and two Sherpa rescue experts, remain camped in the area to continue searching for the eight, who are thought to be four Canadians, an Indian and three Nepalese, he said. Those bodies already recovered include 16 foreigners – four Israeli, four Indians, three Poles, two Slovakians, a Chinese and a Japanese. One tourist’s nationality could not be confirmed, the home ministry said.
Thousands of people head to the Annapurna region every October, when the weather is usually at its best for trekking. The disaster follows Mount Everest’s deadliest ever avalanche that killed 16 guides in April and forced an unprecedented shutdown of the world’s highest peak.