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At Least 20 Trekkers Die In Blizzard, Avalanche In Nepal's Himalayas

A view of Machhapuchhre (center) and the Annapurna Himalaya from Gulmi, Nepal.
Sunil Sharma
A view of Machhapuchhre (center) and the Annapurna Himalaya from Gulmi, Nepal.

At least a dozen trekkers have been killed in unseasonable blizzards and an avalanche in the foothills of Nepal's Himalayan mountain range.

NPR's Julie McCarthy, reporting from New Delhi, says locals and international tourists are among the dead. Rescuers say those killed include four Canadians, two Poles, an Israeli, an Indian and a Nepali.

The Wall Street Journal says:

"More than 100 tourists were crossing the nearly 18,000-foot-high Thorong La pass when heavy snow began to fall Tuesday, said Basant Hamal, general secretary of the nonprofit Himalayan Rescue Association.

"Many rushed to descend to lower altitudes, but others were trapped as the storm closed in. By Wednesday evening, 18 survivors had been rescued, Mr. Hamal said."

Julie says the bad weather has been linked to cyclone Hudhud.

The trekkers were descending from Mount Annapurna, the world's 10th-highest peak and one of the most popular high-altitude treks in Nepal, Julie says.

She reminds us that in April an avalanche above base camp on Mount Everest killed 16 Nepalese guides. It was the deadliest single day for climbers on the world's tallest peak.

Update, 12:20 a.m. ET Thursday: The Associated Press reports that Nepalese authorities in helicopters have spotted at least eight more bodies in the area of the avalanche; five more hikers still are missing on another mountain.

Nepalese authorities have saved others who were caught by the blizzard, the AP reports:

"At least 14 foreign trekkers have been rescued so far, including two from Hong Kong and 12 Israelis who were being treated at the Military Hospital in Katmandu.

"Baburam Bhandari, the chief government administrator in the area, said dozens of people were still stranded on the route and were out of contact because of poor communication."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.