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40 Presumed Dead After Nepal Blizzard


Nepalese army, rescue team members carry avalanche victims to safety at Thorong La pass area, Oct. 17, 2014.

At least 40 people remain missing, and presumed dead, after a deadly, unexpected blizzard struck a popular Himalayan trekking route last week.

Nepalese search teams, travelling by helicopter, continue to scan high-altitude areas in what is gradually turning from a rescue to a recovery operation.

At least 39 hikers are confirmed dead, among them Canadians, Indians, Israelis, Slovaks and Poles, but mostly Nepalese porters.

Army officials say they hope that improved weather conditions will help speed things up.

"The terrain is okay but it is the matter of the weather and thickness of the snow that is hampering our movement basically,'' said Colonel Niranjan Kumar Shrestha, Nepalese Army Spokesman.

The incident was the second major mountain disaster in Nepal this year after an avalanche in April above base camp on Mount Everest killed 16 guides.

Mt. Annapurna in Nepal, site of avalanche
Mt. Annapurna in Nepal, site of avalanche

Many of the hikers were on Nepal’s popular Annapurna trail where the storm produced avalanches. This is the peak hiking season.

Nepal's government says it failed to issue any warning that the tail end of a cyclone that battered India could bring extreme weather to Nepal, and it has promised to set up an early-warning system.