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Government calls off search for missing guides

The government has called off the search operation for Sherpa guides, who are still missing after the deadliest accident on Mt Everest Friday morning.

The 13 Sherpa lost their lives in the deadliest avalanche – of the history – in the Mt Everest.

The rescuers have retrieved the bodies of 13 sherpa guides but three are still missing. The authorities ruling out of any hope of finding more survivors – with bad weather hampering efforts – have decided to end the search for the three guides thought still buried.

The avalanche hit them at an altitude of about 5,800 metres in an area called the ‘popcorn field’ due to ice boulders on the route, which leads into the treacherous Khumbu Icefall.

The deadliest disaster underscores the huge risks borne by local Sherpa guides, who have demanded compensation of $10,000 for the families of 16 colleagues dead or missing in an avalanche and double the insurance cover for expeditions on Mt Everest. Besides the cash compensation, the mountain guides have demanded that the government pay for the treatment of the injured and raise the insurance cover to Rs 2 million (around $20,000).

The  government said that it would consider the Sherpas’ demands for more insurance money, more financial aid for the families of the victims, the formation of a relief fund and regulations that would ensure climbers’ rights. “A committee – formed including guides, rescuers and officials – will  recommend the package,’ said head of the mountaineering department at the tourism ministry Maddhu Sudan Burlakoti.

He also informed that the ministry has not been told of any cancellations by expedition teams. “The government has agreed to at least one demand, for a memorial to be built for the fallen Sherpas,’ he added.
The government has, however, announced an immediate payment of Rs 40,000 (around $400) to the victims’ families to cover funeral costs.

Guiding foreign climbers is the main livelihood for Sherpas, helping them make up to $5,000 a year in a country with an average annual income of just over $700.

Meanwhile, Buddhist monks cremated the remains of Sherpa guides who were buried in the deadliest avalanche at the highest peak of the world.

More than 4,000 climbers have reached the top of Everest since 1953, when the mountain was first conquered by a Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and a New Zealander Edmund Hillary.