Rescue chopper fails to land in avalanche-hit area

Published On: January 21, 2020 07:42 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 21: A well-equipped team sent by the government to rescue the missing trekkers near the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) couldn’t land in the avalanche-hit area on Monday. 

As the region is still witnessing heavy snowfall and continuous avalanches, the team couldn’t carry the rescue operation, according to a press statement issued by the Department of Tourism (DoT).

On Monday, the rescue team consisting members from the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) and Nepal Army left Kathmandu at around seven in the morning in a Nepal Army helicopter.

A massive avalanche had hit Deurali area of Annapurna Rural Municipality-11 in Kaski district on Friday, leaving four South Korean nationals and three Nepalis missing.

The rescue team flew to the avalanche-hit area with the Chief District Officer of Kaski, Korean ambassador to Nepal, local representatives, president of NMA, and kin of the missing trekkers.

Tourism entrepreneurs say it has been difficult to carry out the rescue operation due to heavy snowfall and continuous avalanches. They also said that the government has ignored the fact that it is important to disseminate information along the trekking trails.

According to Hari Bhujel, president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents of Western Region, accidents often occur as trekkers don’t get proper information about weather on the trails. 

“There is no mechanism to call back the trekkers who have already headed toward the base camp,” he said, adding that trekkers face challenges as they don’t get vital information about the weather.

Likewise, Deepak Adhikari, coordinator of the Crisis Management Unit of TAAN Pokhara, said that the government has failed to install emergency sirens along the trekking route. 

“It is difficult to contact trekkers through the mobile phone. After heavy snowfall, the entire telecommunication service of the region gets disconnected,” he said, adding that there should be proper mechanism in the trekking routes.

After the avalanche hit the region, at least 130 trekkers including Nepali guides were evacuated from the area.

According to Barun Paudel, meteorologist at the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, the department had forecast snowfall in the mountainous region before the avalanche struck, but tourism entrepreneurs ignored the forecast and took the trekkers to the ABC.


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