By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA, KATHMANDU (AP): An avalanche and blizzard in Nepal’s mountainous north have killed 12 people, including foreign trekkers, officials said Wednesday as weather conditions improved.
An avalanche on Wednesday buried four Canadians and one Indian trekker in Phu, said Devendra Lamichane, chief administrator of Manang district. The snow buried the trekkers’ bodies and digging them out would take days, he said.
Three villagers were killed Monday in the same district, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of the capital, Katmandu, and their bodies were recovered on Wednesday.
In the neighboring Mustang district, four trekkers caught in a blizzard died Tuesday. Rescuers recovered the bodies of the two Poles, one Israeli and one Nepali trekker from the Thorong La pass area.
It was initially thought the group had been caught in an avalanche, but government official Yam Bahadur Chokyal said by telephone from Mustang that the four trekkers instead had been caught in the blizzard and died.
He said another 14 foreign trekkers have been rescued so far, and two army helicopters were picking up injured trekkers and flying them to Jomsom town.
Chokyal said it was not possible to say how many trekkers were still on the route stranded by the deep snow but several of them have reached safe ground on Wednesday because of improved weather.
The rain and snow in Nepal were caused by a cyclone that hit neighboring India several days ago.
October is the most popular trekking season in Nepal, with thousands of foreigners hiking around Nepal’s Himalayan mountains.
The Thorong La pass is also on the route that circles Mount Annapurna, the world’s 10th highest peak.
An avalanche in April just above the base camp on Mount Everest killed 16 Nepalese guides, the deadliest single disaster on the mountain. Climate experts say rising global temperatures have contributed to avalanches on the Himalayan mountains.
::In this photograph taken on April 18, 2014, a collapsed glacier and the site of an avalanche (top-C) that killed sixteen Nepalese sherpas are just seen in the Khumbu icefall from Everest Base Camp. (ROBERT KAY/AFP/Getty Images) | ROBERT KAY via Getty Images
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