News / Asia

Nepal Meets Sherpas' Demands After Deadly Avalanche

A portrait of Ankaji Sherpa, who lost his life in an avalanche at Mount Everest last Friday, is seen near a prayer flag during the cremation ceremony of Nepali Sherpa climbers in Kathmandu, April 21, 2014.
A portrait of Ankaji Sherpa, who lost his life in an avalanche at Mount Everest last Friday, is seen near a prayer flag during the cremation ceremony of Nepali Sherpa climbers in Kathmandu, April 21, 2014.
Reuters
Nepal's government agreed on Tuesday to compensation demands for Mount Everest sherpas, after the single deadliest avalanche on the world's highest mountain killed at least 13 guides.
 
Expedition leaders said tension was running high at Everest base camp after last Friday's incident, which has rekindled debate on the disproportionate risks that sherpas take helping foreign mountaineers reach the 8,848-meter summit.
 
Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told Reuters that although some sherpas had proposed suspending work for the rest of this climbing season, they had now agreed to resume expeditions on Saturday.
 
However, an American climber at base camp said the sherpas had voted to head down and were packing up.
 
“The ice doctors who set the routes say the current route is too dangerous and there are no alternative routes,” said Ed Marzec in an email passed on by a colleague, Daniel Beer, who is overseeing communications for him.
 
“In addition, the famous Lama Geshe told his people that they should not go to the summit because more will die,” Marzec added, referring to the revered Buddhist guru who gives his blessing to Everest climbers.
 
Several expeditions have already been called off, including a Discovery Channel climb to launch a stunt man from the summit in a wing suit.
 
The government said the minimum insurance cover for sherpas on Everest would be raised by 50 percent to about $15,000 and it would establish a relief fund for the welfare of bereaved families and also pay for the education of their children.
 
“We will also take steps to prevent such incidents in the future,” Tourism Minister Bhim Acharya told Reuters.
 
High Risk
 
In addition to the 13 sherpas killed on the Khumbu Icefall, one of the most dangerous parts of the climb to Everest, three are missing and at least three more are being treated for serious injuries in the capital Kathmandu.
 
The men were trying to fix ropes and crack snow and ice to carve out a route for foreign climbers through the icefall, located not far above Everest Base Camp, when they were caught in the avalanche.
 
The government initially announced an immediate payment of $400 to the victims' families to cover funeral costs.
 
After a meeting at base camp on Sunday, sherpas with 31 expeditions demanded $10,000 in compensation for the families of victims and a doubling of insurance cover for climbs, and they agreed to launch protests if their demands were not met.
 
Until now there has been no provision for government compensation for sherpas hired by international expeditions to carry gear, and in the past these groups have provided financial assistance on their own in the case of accidents.
 
Five of 40 sherpas in an expedition organized by hiking group Alpine Ascents were killed in the avalanche.
 
“It's horrible,” said Vern Tejas, a 61-year-old senior guide for the Seattle-based firm who has summited Everest 10 times. “Some of these guys I have been working with for 10-15 years.”
 
He said sherpas expose themselves to far more risk than their clients, moving many times up and down the fragile icefall ferrying loads and fixing lines.
 
Guiding foreign climbers is the main livelihood for sherpas, helping them make up to $7,000 - and some even more - each year in a country with an average annual income of just over $700.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid