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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, August 17, 2018

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Nepal calls off search for survivors of devastating Himalayan storm

Himalayan storm left at least 39 dead

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KATHMANDU, Nepal - Rescue teams in Nepal have been ordered to cease their search for survivors of a devastating Himalayan storm that left at least 39 dead, with almost 400 having been rescued.

Officials in Nepal say there are now no surviving hikers left on the 200-kilometre Annapurna trail, with the focus shifting to the recovery of bodies.

A government spokesperson in Kathmandu told international media Sunday that they are not yet sure how many bodies remain on the trail, which was struck by a severe snowstorm last week, that left hikers in a total white-out, stranded as the temperature plummeted.

It is the country's worst-ever trekking disaster, officials confirmed as the Nepalese army and private helicopters ceased their search and rescue operations and shifted to a body recovery mission.

The rescue effort was hampered on Sunday because of worsening weather, just before it was abandoned.

Officials have also said that in addition to finding bodies, they are eager to improve the flow of information on those caught up in the disaster.

As the disaster unfolded five days ago, the army, the home ministry and Nepal's trekking association all maintained lists of the dead, missing and survivors, and the central government is now concerned that some people may have been counted twice, or listed as dead when they are in fact living.

The authorities say they now want to create a single list for loved ones.

The trekkers killed in the disaster are an international mix, as the Annapurna trail is a famous attraction in the global hiking community. Nepalese, Japanese, Israeli, Canadian, Indian, Slovak, Vietnamese and Polish trekkers are listed among the dead.

Many of the survivors have suffered severe frostbite and will have to have limbs amputated, according to local medical officials.

A trekking expert has said the storm, which struck on Wednesday, is the worst in a decade, with up to 1.8m of snowfall in 12 hours.

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