April 26, 2020 / 1:02 PM / a month ago

Nepal rescuers recover bodies of two missing South Korean trekkers

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Rescuers on Sunday retrieved two bodies of South Korean trekkers who went missing after being hit by a massive avalanche in January on one of the most popular hiking trails in Nepal, police and army officials said.

Four South Korean trekkers and three guides disappeared in January after being hit by the avalanche in Hinku village, 150 km (90 miles) northwest of Kathmandu.

They were returning from a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp, one of Nepal’s busiest destinations for adventure tourists.

The area is home to Mount Annapurna, the world’s 10th highest mountain at 8,091 metres (26,545 feet) and is visited by thousands of foreign hikers and climbers every year.

Villagers spotted the two bodies of the South Korean trekkers on Saturday. They were found by the side of a river after the snow melted due to rising temperatures, police official Raj Kumar K.C. said.

“A rescue helicopter was used to bring the bodies today from the remote area,” he told Reuters, adding that the bodies of one male and one female trekker will be handed over to the families after necessary legal formalities were completed.

Authorities earlier found the bodies of two of the Nepali guides who were part of the group.

Army spokesman Bidyan Dev Pandey said search and rescue personnel continued to look for the three other missing victims - two South Korean trekkers and a Nepali guide.

Trekking and mountain climbing is a key source of income and employment in cash-strapped Nepal.

The Himalayan nation has cancelled all trekking and mountain climbing activities this year amid a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Nepal has reported 51 cases of coronavirus and no deaths.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; editing by Rupam Jain and Jason Neely

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