Relatives of the missing Koreans who arrived in Kathmandu on Saturday have also visited the avalanche area Photo: AP
KATHMANDU: The search for four South Korean trekkers and their three Nepali guides in Nepal for a sixth straight day.
Special forces from Nepal’s military have been deployed, while drone equipment has also been mobilized to inspect the site on Mount Annapurna where they went missing in an avalanche.
The missing South Koreans were in Nepal as part of a teachers’ volunteer group working with local children.
Search efforts have been underway since the weekend, but have been at times hindered by bad weather.
Rescuers said that there was little hope of finding them alive after they were swept away and buried by an avalanche in the Himalayas.
The group was descending near Annapurna base camp approximately 3,230 meters (10,600 feet) above sea level when the avalanche struck on Friday after heavy snowfall.
“It has been so many days, so it is hard to be hopeful for survival. With our equipment we found signals on the area when the avalanche landed, confirming that there are bodies buried inside,” rescue worker Ang Tashi Sherpa told AFP news agency.
Experts say there is a very low chance of survival for those buried in an avalanche for more than two hours.
Rescuers have marked the position where signals from electronic detection devices have been recorded.
Local official Him Bahadur Gurung said nearly 15 feet (4.5 meters) of fresh snow had accumulated in the area.
On Tuesday morning, an 11-member specialized team from the Nepalese army departed by chopper for the site along with South Korean personnel.
“Our focus is to find them. The teams will try to expedite melting of the snow or dig through,” said Dan Bahadur Karki, police chief of Kaski district.
“It is still a risky operation but all possible efforts are being made.”
Officials estimate that parts of the snow mass could thaw in two weeks if it is sunny but it would take up to a month for most of it to melt.
Relatives of the missing Koreans who arrived in Kathmandu on Saturday have also visited the avalanche-hit area.
Thousands of trekkers visit Nepal every year for its stunning view of the Himalayas and routes lined with picturesque villages.
The Annapurna region is particularly popular among tourists, with 172,720 visiting the area in 2018.
A snowstorm killed about 40 people on the Annapurna circuit in 2014, in one of the biggest trekking tragedies to hit Nepal.
(with inputs from Agencies)