17 hikers killed in Nepal
Trekkers, locals and guides have been killed or stranded when a blizzard hit the popular hiking region
A SNOWSTORM AND avalanche in Nepal's Himalayas has killed 17 trekkers and guides, nine foreigners and eight Nepalis, on a popular hiking route, while more than 100 others remain out of contact, officials say.
Severe weather triggered by the tail end of Cyclone Hudhud, which battered neighbouring India's east coast, hit groups of trekkers and guides on the Annapurna circuit in central Nepal on Tuesday.
As the weather cleared on Wednesday in the remote Mustang and Manang districts, rescuers, trudging through waist-deep snow, found 22 stranded trekkers, an official said.
But some 168 foreign tourists were registered to hike in the districts, and authorities are now trying to track them down.
"There has been heavy snowfall in the area, up to three feet (91 centimetres)," police official Ganesh Rai said.
Trekkers killed in unusual storm
"We have found twelve bodies in Mustang, including four foreigners, two from Israel, one from Poland and one from Vietnam," Rai told AFP, correcting his earlier information that two of those killed were Polish.
Rescuers also found the bodies of five hikers, four Canadians and an Indian, caught in an avalanche in neighbouring Manang.
In a separate incident in Manang, three yak herders were killed in another avalanche on Tuesday while grazing their animals, district official Devendra Lamichanne said.
Another said he hoped those trekkers still unaccounted for had simply been cut off by the blizzard 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," said Mustang district official Baburam Bhandari.