*KATHMANDU: *Nepali police and local volunteers found the bodies of about
100 trekkers and villagers buried in an avalanche set off by last month's
devastating earthquake and were digging through snow and ice for signs of
dozens more missing, officials said on Monday.
The bodies were recovered on Saturday and Sunday at the Langtang village,
60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Kathmandu, which is on a trekking route
popular with Westerners. The entire village, which includes 55 guesthouses
for trekkers, was wiped out by the avalanche, officials said.
"Local volunteers and police personnel are digging through six-feet (deep)
snow with shovels looking for more bodies," said
Gautam Rimal, assistant chief district officer in the area where Langtang
The dead include at least seven foreigners but only two had been
identified, he said.
It was not clear how many people were in Langtang at the time of the
avalanche but other officials said about 120 more people could be buried
under the snow.
"We had not been able to reach the area earlier because of rains and cloudy
weather," Uddhav Bhattarai, the district's senior bureaucrat, said by
telephone on Sunday.
The April 25 earthquake has killed 7,366 people and wounded nearly 14,500,
Nepal's government said.
The government has asked foreign teams to wrap up search and rescue
operations, now that there is no hope of finding people alive in the rubble.
"They can leave. If they are also specialists in clearing the rubble, they
can stay," Rameshwor Dangal, an official at Nepal's home ministry, told
Reuters on Monday.
The chief of India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which was
among the first foreign organisations to arrive after the quake, said it
had been asked by the Nepalese government to conclude its search and rescue
"All the search and rescue teams, not the relief (teams) ... have been
asked to return," NDRF Director General O.P. Singh told Indian television.
"We will see how best it can be done."
At least 18 of the deaths were on Mount Everest, where avalanches hit the
slopes of the world's highest peak. The government said on Monday that it
had not closed the mountain to climbers, though the route up to the peak
"Climbers at base camp don't think the route will be fixed anytime soon,"
said Tulsi Prasad Gautam, a senior official at Nepal's tourism department.
"It's up to the climbers and the organisers who are at base camp to take a
decision: we are not asking them to do one thing or another."
Climbers pay $11,000 each to climb Everest, and 357 were registered for
this climbing season. Last year, the government extended permits when teams
abandoned their expeditions after an avalanche killed 16 Sherpa mountain
In other parts of the Himalayan nation, three people were pulled alive from
the rubble of their home on Sunday, eight days after the earthquake, while
several media outlets reported that a 101-year-old man was found alive in
the rubble on Saturday.
U.S. military aircraft and personnel arrived in Nepal on Sunday and were
due to begin helping ferry relief supplies to stricken areas outside the
capital, a U.S. Marines spokeswoman said.
The contingent comprised eight aircraft, including one Huey and two C-130s,
and between 100 and 120 personnel, spokeswoman Captain Cassandra Gesecki
The deployment is expected to ease the piling up of relief material at
Kathmandu airport, Nepal's only major airport.
The United Nations said it was looking at a wider array of options for
getting supplies to people in the most remote areas, including transporting
provisions on the ground through India.
"We are still having problems getting things to people," said Orla Fagan, a
spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs. "There are people in very, very remote mountain villages."
On Sunday, the government restricted the landing of large cargo aircraft at
the airport to limit damage to the stressed runway, said a U.N. official
who declined to be named.
The United Nations has said 8 million of Nepal's 28 million people were
affected by the quake, with at least 2 million needing tents, water, food
and medicines over the next three months.