Himalayas avalanches: Satellite images show full extent of blizzards which killed trekkers in Nepal

Images released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the snow-cover as cyclone Hudhud made its way through the region

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The Independent Online

Satellite images have revealed the full extent of the freak blizzards which killed dozens of people in Nepal's worst hiking disaster.

Rescuers yesterday pulled out three bodies of Nepali citizens killed in last week's blizzards and avalanches, taking the toll of those killed to 43.

The blizzards, triggered by the tail end of cyclone Hudhud which struck India this month, hit the Annapurna Circuit during the peak hiking season.

Officials have said 518 people including 304 foreign trekkers were rescued in the operation in which more than 70 sorties were made by army and civilian helicopters.

Satellite images released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the full extent of the snow spread across the mountain range after it was hit by the remnants of the cyclone.

The images show how the snow built up on the mountain range between October 10 and October 15 as the cyclone passed through the region.

Nepal yesterday said it will introduce new rules, improve weather forecasts and better monitor trekkers following the disaster.

Trekkers on mountain trails will be required to take trained local guides and rent a GPS tracking unit so they can be traced in the case of an emergency, tourism department official Tulasi Gautam said.

The government plans to announce the new rules nationwide before the next trekking season in the spring.

Hudhud_satellite_Oct10.jpg

"The main reason for the high number of casualties is that those trekkers without proper guides were prompted to continue with their trek in attempts to beat the storm. So we plan to strictly enforce new rules of no trekking without porters or proper guides," Gautam said.

Rescue operations ended on Monday, although Yadav Koirala, of Nepal's Disaster Management Division, said a smaller number of soldiers remained in the area yesterday.

Of those killed in the blizzards, 21 were foreign trekkers and mountaineers from countries including India, Israel, Canada, Poland, Japan, China and Slovakia. Twenty-two were Nepalese guides, porters and villagers.

Additional reporting by Press Association and Reuters

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