Rescue workers, who had planned to end their search, returned to the mountains to look for survivors on Tuesday after receiving fresh information suggesting that trekkers, guides and porters may still be stranded on the popular Annapurna Circuit route.
The bodies of two porters were located during a chopper search of an exposed high mountain pass that bore the brunt of the storm, an official from The Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) told AFP.
“We have retrieved the bodies of two Nepalese porters from Thorong La pass,” said TAAN president Ramesh Dhamala.
“We could not find any survivors during our search of the area,” Dhamala added.
More than 500 people have been airlifted to safety since a snowstorm hit the region last Tuesday at the height of the trekking season, triggering avalanches.
A statement from the home ministry released earlier on Tuesday said that at least 41 trekkers, porters, guides and others have either been confirmed dead or presumed to have perished in the disaster.
That toll did not include the two bodies sighted and recovered later in the day.
In addition to 35 bodies retrieved by emergency workers, eight others remain buried in Manang district.
– MORE TRAINING FOR GUIDES –
Home secretary Surya Prasad Silwal told a press briefing that the government would take steps to provide more training to trekking guides and maintain more accurate records of tourist numbers in mountainous areas.
“This disaster has been a great lesson for us,” he said.
“We have also realised the need to provide more training to trekking guides working with foreigners so risks can be minimised.”
Tourism ministry spokesman Mohan Krishna Sapkota told AFP: “we want to encourage trekkers to use guides but we have no plans at the moment to make it mandatory”.
“We would like them to take out insurance policies to cover medical expenses in future, since we found that many of the victims had no insurance in this case,” Sapkota said.-AFP