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Tourists die in Himalayan snowstorm

October 15, 2014

More than a dozen trekkers have been killed in a snowstorm and avalanche in the Himalayas. Officials said a further 100 people "remain out of contact".

Himalaya Annapurna
Image: imago/McPhoto/Lovell

At least 12 trekkers were killed in treacherous weather conditions in the Himalayas on Tuesday evening. Some news agencies had put the death toll higher, which included several local guides.

The snowstorm and avalanche hit groups of trekkers and guides on the Annapurna circuit in central Nepal.

Police official Ganesh Rai, who is in charge of the rescue operation said, "There has been heavy snowfall in the area, up to three feet (91 centimetres)."

"We have found twelve bodies in Mustang, including four foreigners, two from Israel, one from Poland and one from Vietnam," said Rai.

He confirmed some of the victims had been found in the neighbouring Manang district. "A chopper search has located the bodies of five people, including four Canadians and an Indian, killed in an avalanche," he said.

Officials said rescuers also found more than 20 stranded trekkers in the remote Mustang and Manang districts. The snow was reported to be waist-high in places.

Thousands of trekkers visit the Annapurna region every October, when weather conditions are usually suitable for hiking trips.

More than 100 still missing

Around 168 foreign tourists in total were registered to hike in the region and the authorities were trying to track them down, the authorities confirmed.

Mustang district official Baburam Bhandari said he hoped the trekkers still unaccounted for had simply been cut off by the snowstorm and poor telecommunications.

"The phone network is not very good so we have not been able to get in touch with the missing, but we hope to find them later today," he said.

The severe weather conditions were triggered by the tail end of Cyclone Hudhud, which had previously battered neighbouring India's east coast.

In a separate incident, rescuers are searching for a 67-year-old Frenchman who fell into a river on Tuesday while following the Manaslu trekking route, police said.

Nepal Mount Everest Himalaya
An avalanche swept down Mount Everest on April 18, 2014, killing 16 local guides.Image: Reuters

In April, the worst disaster to hit Mount Everest killed 16 people and forced an unprecedented shutdown of the world's highest peak.

lw/jr (AFP, AP)

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