Chopper with high-tech device, drones combing avalanche area

Published On: January 22, 2020 08:35 AM NPT By: Ashim Neupane  | @ashimnep

Kathmandu, Jan 22: The government on Tuesday morning sent a helicopter equipped with a high-tech device to the Annapurna Base Camp area to detect the possible location of the trekkers, who are missing after a massive avalanche in the region last week.

The device can track watches, smartphones, and other electronic gadgets of the trekkers from the helicopter, according to Danduraj Ghimire, director general at the Department of Tourism (DoT). 

The helicopter carrying a nine-member rescue team flew above the possible locations where the trekkers might be stuck.

“The device has identified some possible locations. The weather has also started to improve from Tuesday morning, so the rescue operation might start soon in those locations,” Ghimire said, adding that the rescue helicopter was also able to land in the avalanche-hit area on Tuesday. 

The rescue team comprises Nepal Army officials and Korean experts among others.A massive avalanche had hit the Deurali area of Annapurna Rural Municipality-11 in Kaski district on Friday, leaving four South Korean nationals and three Nepalis missing. 

After the avalanche, at least 130 trekkers including Nepali guides were evacuated from the area. Following the avalanche, the government and tourism entrepreneurs have been carrying out the rescue operation.

But the rescue choppers could not land in the avalanche-hit zone until Monday due to heavy snowfall and continuous avalanches. 

Meanwhile, the DoT suspects that more trekkers could be missing in the area. “Only the tourists and guides taken to the area by trekking companies have been identified. There might be free individual trekkers stuck in the avalanche-hit area,” an official at the DoT said. 

According to Santa Bir Lama, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), rescue operation might start from early Wednesday. 

“The possible location has been tracked by the device. The rescue team will dig the snow in the tracked location,” he told Republica, adding that the rescue team is preparing to send other high-tech devices to the avalanche-hit zone. 

“The rescue team also combed the avalanche-hit zone with the help of drones. But they could not collect any useful information,” Lama said, adding that three special rescue members from the NMA, and three Korean rescuers will head for the Deurali area on Wednesday. 

He further added that about 10 rescue members will stay overnight in the avalanche-hit area.


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