16 Oct 2014

NZers stranded on Nepal ranges

9:02 pm on 16 October 2014

Two New Zealanders are expected to walk out of the Nepal's blizzard-hit Annapurna ranges today, with another already on her way back home after being evacuated by jeep.

A climber is rescued in the Himalayas.

A climber is rescued in the Himalayas. Photo: AFP / Nepal Army

Mountain rescue teams in Nepal have resumed their search for dozens of missing climbers after unseasonal blizzards and avalanches killed at least 26 people.

The death toll, which included eight foreigners and a group of yak herders, was expected to rise with at least 85 people still unaccounted for.

The district governor of Mustang district said the weather was good and one army helicopter has already left for the site.

Ground teams of soldiers and police are also looking for survivors or bodies.

Rescue teams are focused on the area around the Thorang-La area near Annapurna, the world's 10th highest mountain.

October is the most popular month for trekking in Nepal and the severe weather, triggered by a cyclone in neighbouring India, would have caught people off guard.

The owner of New Zealand-based Trekking Adventures Ann Young said she had three New Zealanders in the area when the storm hit.

She said they were not in the worst affected area of the Mustang district, but had still been stranded by heavy rain.

Ms Young said a group, including one New Zealander, made it out after a 30-hour horrific jeep ride, arriving in the city of Pokhara last night.

She said the other two New Zealanders were on a bus, when the road turned into a river and they had to walk over landslides to safety.

Ms Young said three Americans and one New Zealander were due to fly out of the town of Jomsom on Monday but had to take a jeep out.

"They had a two-day horrific jeep evacuation," Ms Young said. "The storm was so bad it created rivers on roads and waterfalls. They got stranded in the middle of the night.

"Fortunately, they found a little tea house in the middle of nowhere and slept there."

Ms Young said they arrived in Pokhara last night after a 30-hour journey, and the New Zealander had caught a flight back home.

She said she did not know of any other New Zealanders affected by the bad weather.

"All the news we get here is very sketchy, so we don't know a lot about what happened," she said.

While she said people should not have been up in the high pass in Annapurna, she said it was hard to know the weather.

Wanaka alpine guide Paul Rogers, who has 14 years experience in the Himalayas, said extreme storms were not unusual there.

Because it was heavily populated, local people would have already begun rescue efforts.

"Whole communities live up there ... so hopefully a lot of these people missing will be just hunkered down in a tea house somewhere," he said.

Owner of trekking company High Place Mary Lancaster said it was the most popular time of year for trekkers.

She said when people begin the walk it can be difficult to get weather forecasts, although communication is getting better.

Ms Lancaster said she does not believe the deadly storm will deter other people from visiting the area in the future.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there were 78 New Zealanders registered in Nepal but the consul there was not aware of any being affected.

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