Friday, November 4, 2011

Bad weather strands 2,000 trekkers near Everest

Posted November 05, 2011 11:55:39
About 2,000 foreign hikers have been trapped in bad weather on the slopes of a mountain near Mount Everest in a remote corner of Nepal for the past four days, officials say.

They have been forced to stay in the small hill resort of Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest, which has been covered by thick clouds this week, forcing airlines to cancel flights to and from the remote region.
Lukla, which lies at a height of 2,800 metres, is located 125 kilometres north-east of the Nepali capital.

Tens of thousands of trekkers and climbers visit the Solukhumbu region in north-east Nepal, home to Mount Everest, every year.
Many travellers start and end their trek from the windswept resort where a small airstrip is carved into the rugged mountainside.
Lukla's Tenzing Hillary Airport chief Utsav Raj Kharel says tourists, who are not in physical danger, have been waiting for their flights back to Kathmandu for the past four days.
"Visibility is almost nil. Fog and clouds have covered the entire area making flights by fixed-wing small aircraft impossible," Mr Kharel said.
Weather officials in Kathmandu say the clouds could continue to cover the region for a couple of days, worsening the plight of the trapped tourists who could face a food shortage.
"Though a few small private helicopters had picked some tourists from nearby Sirke village, they are inadequate to clear the rush," Mr Kharel said.
Himalayan Rescue Association Nepal chief Santa Subba says authorities are expected to make arrangements to rescue the trapped hikers in big helicopters once the weather conditions allowed them to reach the area.
Autumn, which runs from September to November, is peak tourist season in South Asia's poorest country, which gets nearly 4 per cent of its gross domestic product from tourism.

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