POKHARA, Jan 19: A total of seven trekkers including four South Koreans and three Nepalis are still missing following Friday’s avalanche near the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC), police said.
According to Superintendent of Police Dan Bahadur Karki of Kaski Police, a rescue teams couldn’t reach the avalanche-hit area as of Saturday evening.
“The trekkers were missing since Friday afternoon. They should have come into contact by Saturday evening,” Karki said, adding that other members of the same team have already come in contact with the police.
Three different teams of police have been deployed to rescue the missing tourists and guides, Karki said. “The first team has reached Chomrong, and the second has reached the Annapurna Base Camp,” he said, adding that the third team has failed to reach the avalanche area. Police reached Chomrong and the ABC on rescue helicopters.
“The identities of the missing are yet to be ascertained,” Karki said, adding that a total of 60 trekkers have been rescued and taken to Chomrong. Likewise, 30 trekkers have already reached Pokhara. Meanwhile, a total of 50 trekkers are in the base camp.
According to guide Ram Sharan Bhatta, who had taken South Korean tourists for trekking, his team members are out of contact after the avalanche hit the trekking route.
“A total of nine South Korean tourists went for trekking from Kathmandu-based Nepal Guide Trek Company. They were accompanied by 17 Nepali guides,” he said, adding that they were hit by the avalanche while returning from Deurali.
He further added that four South Koreans and two Nepalis went out of contact before reaching Deurali. Meanwhile, another Nepali, who is missing, was with a Chinese trekking group.
“They are still out of contact. We were returning without reaching the base camp due to heavy snowfall,” he said, adding that it was difficult even to walk due to heavy snowfall.
According to Netra Shama, check-post chief of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), tourism entrepreneurs and some locals have also left for the avalanche spot to rescue the missing tourists and guides. He also added that bad weather has posed a challenge in the rescue operations.
Meanwhile, the tourists and guides stranded at the ABC were rescued by helicopters of three different companies. They were taken to Chomrong and Pokhara.
The tourism entrepreneurs, who left for the avalanche spot, also said that searching the missing is not easy as the weather is adverse. A team of tourism entrepreneurs led by Bijaya KC of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) has left to search the missing tourists and guides.