Nepal Blizzard Death Toll Rises to 39

Rescue workers continue efforts to locate missing locals, trekkers and climbers in the Himalayas.
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Rescue workers continue efforts to locate missing locals, trekkers and climbers in the Himalayas.

UPDATE 10/21/2014 3:45 PM

The official death toll in the Himalayas reached 39 over the weekend as Nepal began ramping down rescue operations in the Mustang, Manang and Dolpa districts. “We believe that all the trekkers and guides have been helped and as far as we know there are no more people stranded on the route,” Yadav Koraila of Nepal’s disaster management division told the Associated Press. So far, 407 people—226 of them foreigners—have been rescued in the wake of a massive snowstorm that swept across Nepal last week.

Nepalese officials closed the Annapurna Circuit indefinitely on Sunday after new climbers attempted the deadly trails and required rescuing. The trails have been deemed unsafe due to dangerous conditions.

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The death toll in Nepal rose Friday, with officials declaring that at least 29 people have died after a series of avalanches and blizzards swept through the country's mountainous northern region during peak trekking season.

ABC News reports that rescue workers have saved a combined 235 trekkers from Mustang and Manang district since efforts began on Wednesday, but many more remain unaccounted for.

The blizzard, spawned from the remnants of an Indian Ocean cyclone, hit Thorong La pass area on the Annapurna trekking trail on Tuesday, one day prior to an avalanche in Phu village.

Five climbers were also killed at the base camp for Mount Dhaulagiri in an avalanche 75 kilometers away, contributing to the death toll.

Many trekkers who sought refuge in huts, tea houses and lodges along the Annapurna trail have been unable to leave, even after storms ceased, due to waist-deep snow and an inability to follow the trail.

“I was sure I was going to die on the way to the pass because I lost my group, I lost all the people I was with and I could not see anything,” survivor Linor Kajan told ABC.

The popular 100-mile Annapurna trekking route that winds through four different regions of Nepal was scattered with locals attending festivals and tourists taking advantage of the typically clear and cool October weather.

According to figures released by the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council, Nepal attracted 796,000 visitors in 2013 and was expected to see 861,000 visitors in 2014.

A Facebook page has been created to post updates, share information and connect loved ones affected by the avalanches and blizzard. An unofficial list of climbers, locals, and trekkers information and safety status has also been posted as a blog to keep family and friends informed.

Read more: ABC News