2,000 Stranded Everest
November 4, 2011 by staff
2,000 Stranded Everest, About 2,000 foreign hikers have been caught in bad weather on the slopes of a mountain near Mount Everest in a remote corner of Nepal for the past four days, officials said Friday.
They have been forced to stay in the little hill of Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest, which has been covered by dense clouds this week, forcing airlines to cancel flights to and from the remote region.
Lukla, situated at an altitude of 2,800 meters (9186 feet), is located 125 km (78 miles) northeast of the Nepalese capital.
Tens of thousands of hikers and climbers visit the Solukhumbu region in northeastern Nepal, where Mount Everest every year. Many begin and end their journey from the windswept station, which is carved a small airstrip in the rugged mountains.
Utsav Kharel Raj, head of the Tenzing Hillary airport in Lukla, said tourists, who were not in physical danger, had been waiting for their flight back to Kathmandu for the past four days.
“Visibility is almost zero. The fog and the clouds have covered the entire area to make flights of small fixed-wing aircraft impossible,” said Kharel told Reuters by telephone.
Time officials in Kathmandu said the clouds would keep covering the region for a couple of days, worsening the situation of trapped tourists who could face a food shortage.
“Although some small private helicopter had picked up some tourists near the village of Sirk, are not sufficient to eliminate the fever,” said Kharel.
Santa Subba, chief of Himalayan Rescue Association Nepal, said authorities are expected to make arrangements to rescue hikers caught in large helicopters once the weather allowed them to reach the area.
Autumn, which runs from September to November is the peak tourist season in the poor but picturesque country of South Asia, which receives about four percent of gross domestic product from tourism.
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