Fears for Britons caught in Nepal storms

A Nepal Army rescue helicopter at Thorang-La in Annapurna region. Picture: Reuters
A Nepal Army rescue helicopter at Thorang-La in Annapurna region. Picture: Reuters
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FAMILIES of Britons trekking in Nepal have expressed concern at not being able to contact them following horrific blizzards and avalanches which led to at least 39 deaths last week.

The Foreign Office confirmed they had been contacted by concerned families 
who have not heard from their relatives in days.

A spokeswoman said they had been in close touch with the Nepalese authorities but have not been informed of any British casualties.

A number of British people are believed to be unaccounted for, including engineer Peter Roddis.

Lisa Hallet, the girlfriend of Roddis, reportedly from Brighton, said she had last spoken to him on Wednesday.

“He said he was planning 
to head out that day or on Thursday, but I have not heard from him since,” she told a newspaper.

Following concerns that another British trekker, advertising executive Lizi Hamer, was missing, a friend posted on 
Facebook yesterday to say both she and her partner were safe.

“They’re both safe and sound. Lizi says they missed the storm and are going to be back next week. They’re out of reach due to poor signal,” they wrote.

Yesterday a British survivor described how he escaped the Himalayan mountaineering disaster.

Paul Sheridan said walkers were left stumbling through “an abyss of nothing” as dense snow left them unable to 
orientate themselves on the slopes of the Annapurna range in northern Nepal.

Sheridan said trekkers should have been prevented from going up the mountain, but were “herded to their deaths” by guides who he alleged were not carrying the correct emergency equipment.

Rescuers have pulled out more than 230 trekkers – most of them foreigners – since rescue efforts began on Wednesday, and are still searching for more survivors, who are believed to be stranded in lodges and huts. Hiking remains difficult because of waist-deep snow.

The Nepalese government has announced a high-level committee with two senior ministers to monitor and co-ordinate rescue efforts in what is shaping up to be the country’s worst mountaineering tragedy.

Yesterday a rescue helicopter spotted nine more bodies on 
a trekking trail in northern Nepal, bringing the death toll to 39.

The bodies were seen from the air in Dolpa district, but the steep terrain made it 
impossible for the helicopter to land, said Yadav Koirala from the Disaster Management Division in Kathmandu. The helicopter picked up three survivors, and rescuers on 
foot would be sent to the area to retrieve the bodies, he said.

Dolpa district is next to Manang and Mustang districts and the popular Annapurna trekking trail where most of the foreign trekkers and Nepalese guides and villagers were killed last week. Among the dead were Canadians, Indians, Israelis, Slovaks and Poles.

The snow storms were whipped up by the tail end of a cyclone that hit the Indian coast a few days earlier.