Many individual tourists hired inexperienced guides
The search for missing climbers still buried under snow at an altitude of more than 5000 metres has entered a sixth day. Rescue crews are searching high-altitude paths and passes of the popular Annapurna region and the Manang district for trekkers missing for almost a week.
More than 320 people from countries all over the world have so far been rescued and 39 bodies taken off the mountains, following the arrival of an unexpected severe weather system in the region a week ago. Many survivors suffered severe frostbite and will have to have limbs amputated.
Many died near the iconic 5,416-metre Thorung La Pass, the highest point on the 21-day Annapurna Circuit trek. Survivors said that whiteout conditions where the sky and the land became the same colour made it impossible to navigate.
Almost 100,000 tourists trekked in Annapurna in 2013 and many Nepali communities rely on foreign trekkers for income. October is the most popular month for them to come. So a fall in visitors could hit locals badly.
Government officials are blaming the tragedy on the fact that large numbers of individual tourists hire inexperienced guides who are not part of registered companies – something that happens especially when there are so many visitors.
[pictured: Thorung La pass, Nepal; photo by Schutz; Creative Commons license]