Nepal Annapurna: Climbing disaster toll reaches 39

A survivor injured in a snowstorm is carried on a stretcher by Nepal Army personnel to an army helicopter in the Manang district along the Annapurna Circuit Trek, 17 October 2014

A survivor injured in a snowstorm is carried on a stretcher by Nepal Army personnel to an army helicopter in the Manang district along the Annapurna Circuit Trek, 17 October 2014.

At least 39 climbers died on a key Nepali hiking route after it was hit by major snowstorms and avalanches earlier this week, officials say

(SOURCE)  Helicopters are helping rescuers high in the Himalayas as they search on for missing trekkers, with fears that more bodies lie beneath the snow.

A total of 289 people have been rescued from the mountain ranges in what is Nepal’s worst-ever trekking disaster.

A government spokesman said the priority was to rescue stranded people.

Tourism ministry official Suresh Acharya told BBC Nepali that helicopters were scouring snowy areas as high as 5,790m (19,000ft).

One of the main trekking routes – the Thorung La pass, the high point of the Annapurna Circuit – is now “relatively safe” after the army cleared snow, he said.

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“We are told that there are around still 20-25 persons in the area and they are safe,” the official added.

The BBC’s Andrew North in Nepal says that it is still unclear which climbers have been accounted for and which are still missing.

The task of the authorities is made more complicated because there are thousands of climbers in Nepal at this time of the year.

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