The death toll from unseasonal heavy snow and avalanches that hit three of Nepal’s primarily Tibetan ethnic areas early this week has risen to at least 32, including foreigners.
So far Nepali search and rescue teams have rescued 262 people but dozens of people are still missing on or near the popular trekking route that circles Annapurna, the world's 10th highest mountain.
Mt. Annapurna in Nepal, site of avalanche
On Tuesday, heavy snow had continued for 24 hours, accumulating about 2.5 meters of snow, when an avalanche swept the Mount Dhaulagiri base camp where 25 climbers and trekkers were camping. After two days a search team was able to recover five bodies from the camp.
On Friday the bodies (two Slovak climbers and three local guides, including one Sherpa) were sent to Kathmandu.
Dr. Nima Namgyal Sherpa was the part of the search and rescue team that dug out the bodies. He said everyone at the basecamp, including two local tea shop owners, is now evacuated and all survivors are being moved to Pokhara, 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu. But many people are reported still scattered along the popular high-altitude trekking trails.
“Along the trail we could also see people camping and yesterday we informed them to go back and that it’s not safe for them to go up,” Dr. Sherpa told VOA Tibetan Service on his way back from the mountain on Friday.
Dr. Sherpa is now heading to the Thorangla Pass to continue the search and rescue effort.
The remnants of deadly Cyclone Hudhud in neighboring India triggered rain and snow in Nepal's northern mountains at the height of the popular trekking season.