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S. Koreans among seven missing in Himalayan avalanche

KATHMANDU: Four South Koreans and three Nepalis are missing and about 200 people have been rescued after an avalanche hit trekkers on the Annapurna region in the Himalayas, officials said on Saturday.

South Korea was to send an emergency team to Nepal to help in a desperate search operation.

The incident occurred at an altitude of about 3,230 metres close to Annapurna base camp following heavy snowfall on Friday.

Six of the missing are from one trekking expedition while one Nepali porter is from a different group.

About 200 people have been rescued from the avalanche-hit zone as well as other trekking routes after the weather eased to let helicopters fly in.

The four were part of an 11-member team from South Korea. Others from the team are safe.

Ang Dorjee Sherpa of the Korean Alpine Federation said it had been snowing in the area since the last two days, making their trek risky. “The weather and snow got worse and, feeling it was becoming dangerous and difficult, they decided to turn. As they were heading back they were hit by an avalanche,” Sherpa said.

Annapurna is an avalanche-prone and technically difficult mountain with a higher death rate than Everest, the world’s highest peak.

Kim Sung-hwa, a South Korean trekker in Kathmandu after a trek in the Langtang region in eastern Nepal said he had to cut his trip short after abnormally heavy snow.

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