Heavy snow hampers search for missing S. Korean, Nepal trekkers

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Kathmandu

Heavy snow, chilling winds and poor visibility hampered the search Sunday for four South Koreans and three Nepalis caught in an avalanche in the popular Annapurna region of the Himalayas, officials said.
Relatives of the missing Koreans have arrived in Kathmandu alongside several officials sent by Seoul to help with the emergency rescue efforts, Ang Dorjee Sherpa of the Korean Alpine Federation told.
The missing group was near the Annapurna base camp around 3,230 metres (10,600 feet) above sea level when the avalanche struck after heavy snowfall on Friday.
“Search and rescue efforts are underway but weather and snow in the area has made it difficult to make much progress,” said Mira Acharya from Nepal’s tourism department.
Helicopters were sent out on Saturday to rescue about 200 people stranded around Annapurna and other nearby mountains after the incident.
Photos from the area shared on social media showed guesthouses along the trekking route blanketed in a thick layer of snow. Tek Gurung, a guesthouse owner aiding in the search operation, said more than two metres of snow (6.6 feet) had fallen on the hiking trails.
“We have been searching since yesterday but have not found anything yet. It is very windy and snowy here, to search the snow-covered areas on foot is difficult,” Gurung told AFP over the phone.—APP