Families mount anxious vigil for trekkers

An officer writes queue numbers on Indians' hands as they queue up for an aircraft to evacuate to their country at Tribhuvan International Airport, in Kathmandu on Sunday.  

The last time she spoke to her son Tushar, Australia-based transpersonal counsellor Renu Fotedar, on trekking trip to Nepal told him of how incredible the Everest was. After Saturday’s avalanche triggered by the powerful quake with its epicentre near Kathmandu, Tushar has been frantically trying to locate his mother.

The last conversation between the two was on the afternoon before the avalanche and she had just got to the base camp. “She told me of how powerful the location was and how she could feel the earth rumbling underneath her mattress at night,” Tushar told The Hindu.

“Since then I have not been able to reach her and [am] trying to push her photo out into social media in the hope that someone can identify [her] and at least let me know she is safe,” he said.

“She was trekking with a company called Himalayan Sherpa Alpine. There is no news about the team,” Tushar said.

Mountaineer Ankur Bahl, on an expedition to the Everest, was at Camp 2 when the avalanche struck.

Families pin their hopes on Indian rescue efforts

It has been an agonising wait for Tushar, son of Australia-based transpersonal counsellor Renu Fotedar who has gone missing on a trekking trip to Nepal. Absence of official information has added to the anxiety, as Tushar has been reaching out to climbers who were there.

“She was trekking with a company called Himalayan Sherpa Alpine, there is no news about the team,” he said.

Mountaineer Ankur Bahl, who was at Camp 2, used his satellite phone to reach his wife Sangeeta, also a mountaineer, at about 3 p.m. on Saturday.

“I have not heard from him since. Someone from the Army was in touch with him, we are now hoping that they will use an MI helicopter that can go as high as 21,000 feet to rescue him,” Sangeeta told The Hindu.

As India forges ahead with rescue and relief efforts, families like the Fotedars and the Bahls are pinning all their hopes on the government. The scale of destruction and casualty, however, has made it difficult for authorities to focus on the trekkers.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said the focus right now is on Kathmandu, but efforts are under way to gather information about other areas as well.

“Our focus has been on Kathmandu where primary casualty and damage has been and it is also the logical entry point for relief and rescue. Though our embassy has been trying to get information, it is an extremely difficult situation,” he said.

Narrow escape

A 40-member Indian Army expedition team also had a narrow escape when the avalanche hit the Everest base camp.

“Their equipments were buried in the avalanche, but they escaped unhurt. The team members rescued 61 other climbers, and the accompanying medical officer treated several other injured international mountaineers. They also extricated 19 bodies,” said a Defence Ministry official.

The expedition team also distributed medicines and rations among the survivors.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 9:02:42 PM |

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