Search suspended for South Koreans, Nepalis hit by avalanche

Search suspended for South Koreans, Nepalis hit by avalanche
Search suspended for South Koreans, Nepalis hit by avalanche

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Nepalese army personnel prepare to leave for the search and rescue operation to find seven people, including four South Korean trekkers, after an avalanche hit the Annapurna region, in Pokhara January 21, 2020. — Reuters pic

KATHMANDU, Jan 23 — The search for four South Korean trekkers and three Nepalis swept away by an avalanche in the Himalayas almost a week ago was suspended today as conditions made further operations too risky.

The trekkers were descending near Annapurna base camp in Nepal, around 3,230 metres above sea level, when the avalanche struck last Friday.

“The situation has become too risky for the search teams to continue,” said Dandu Raj Ghimire, chief of Nepal’s tourism department. 

“We will resume when the conditions allow and the mass of snow begins to melt,” he told AFP.

Officials said some snow could thaw in two weeks if the weather is sunny, but it could take up to a month for most of it to melt.

Yesterday, a search team of Nepal Army specialists, several South Korean personnel, and locals dug into an area where signals from various tracking devices had been recorded.

Sniffer dogs were also used.

But fresh avalanches since the initial fall have piled on the snow, hampering digging and adding to the risks for search parties. 

“There is a chance that a bigger avalanche might be triggered,” said Suraj Paudyal, rescue coordinator with Simrik Air, who has been involved in the operation. 

Thousands of trekkers visit Nepal every year for its stunning views of the Himalayas and routes lined with picturesque villages. 

The Annapurna region is particularly popular among tourists, with 172,720 visiting the area in 2018. — AFP

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