Severe snowstorm and avalanche has killed 20 trekkers and guides in Nepal’s Himalayas
Severe weather triggered by the tail end of Cyclone Hudhud, which battered neighbouring India’s east coast, hit trekking groups on the Annapurna circuit as well as mountaineers trying to scale the avalanche-prone Mount Dhaulagiri in central Nepal on Tuesday.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed no Australians are believed to have been affected.
“The Australian Embassy in Kathmandu remains in close contact with Nepalese authorities. Nepalese authorities have advised there are no reports of Australian casualties, so far, in the incident,” a statement reads.
As the weather cleared on Wednesday in the remote Mustang and Manang districts, rescuers trudging through waist-deep snow found 27 stranded trekkers, an official said.
But some 168 foreign tourists were registered to hike in the districts and authorities are now trying to track the rest of them down, said police official Ganesh Rai who is heading the rescue effort.
Two Slovakian mountaineers and three Nepalese guides went missing after an avalanche struck teams stationed at the base camp of 8,167-metre (26,795 foot) Mount Dhaulagiri on Tuesday night.
“Two Slovakian climbers and three Nepalese guides are missing at Dhaulagiri base camp after an avalanche, they were here to scale the mountain,” local official Tulsiram Bhandari told AFP from Myagdi district.
In neighbouring Mustang, rescuers conducting helicopter sorties found twelve bodies, — two Israelis, a Pole, a Vietnamese and eight Nepalese trekkers and guides — blanketed by thick snow.
“There has been heavy snowfall in the area, up to three feet (91 centimetres),” said police official Rai.
“We have found twelve bodies in Mustang, including four foreigners — two from Israel, one from Poland and one from Vietnam,” Rai told AFP, correcting his earlier information that two of those killed were Polish.
Rescuers, aided by a Nepal army helicopter and several others hired by trekking agencies, also found the bodies of five hikers caught in an avalanche in neighbouring Manang.
“A chopper search has located the bodies of five people, including four Canadians and an Indian, killed in an avalanche,” Rai said.