Trekker families waiting for news


Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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A number of families of British trekkers in Nepal are still awaiting news of their relatives following deadly blizzards and avalanches.

The Foreign Office confirmed it is working with local authorities in Nepal to account for every Briton believed to be in the affected area.

But a spokeswoman said they are not aware of any British casualties.

An unofficial list online names a number of Britons who are still unaccounted for, but also details some who have been deemed safe after making contact with their families.

One man has spoken of the “tense and horrific” wait to hear from his “missing” daughter in northern Nepal following the disaster which has claimed the lives of 38 people.

Christopher Kneale said he spent days desperately attempting to contact his daughter, Clare Glazebrook, and her husband, Jamie, in the hope they had survived.

He told the BBC he finally received an email confirming they were safe from the trekking company the couple were travelling with but has still been unable to contact them directly.

Mr Kneale said: “We’ve had to go through the trekking company who, I presume, have made contact with the Sherpas out there.

“It’s been tense and horrific – not knowing was the worst.”

The remoteness of the region can make it extremely difficult for trekkers to contact home, while others may have taken safe trekking routes but not yet returned.

Meanwhile, Amanda Vardy, the sister of an experienced mountaineer, has also spoken of her relief at discovering he had safely reached base camp along with his group.

Nigel Vardy, from Derby, who calls himself Mr Frostbite, had been in constant contact with his family before the terrible storms hit.

Ms Vardy said: “The Britons that Nigel was with have all come back safe. We will get full confirmation when people have talked to him – so, good news.”

But she joked that the family will only be fully reassured when they know “Nigel is drinking whisky in a tent”.

Rescuers have pulled out more than 230 trekkers – most of them foreigners – since rescue efforts began on Wednesday, and are still searching for more survivors, who are believed to be stranded in lodges and huts. Hiking remains difficult because of waist-deep snow.

Nine bodies were spotted by a rescue helicopter yesterday but the steep terrain made it impossible for it to land, according to Yadav Koirala, from Katmandu’s Disaster Management Division. However it was able to collect three survivors.

The Nepalese government has announced a high-level committee with two senior ministers to monitor and co-ordinate rescue efforts in what looks set to be the country’s worst mountaineering tragedy.

The popular Annapurna mountain range trekking trail – where most of the foreign trekkers and Nepalese guides and villagers were killed this week – goes through Dolpa district and can take up to 25 days to complete.

Among the dead were Canadians, Indians, Israelis, Slovaks and Poles.

It was also reported that engineer Peter Roddis, believed to be from Brighton, was among those unaccounted for.

Mr Roddis’s girlfriend, Lisa Hallet, said she last spoke to him on Wednesday.

“He said he was planning to head out that day or on Thursday, but I have not heard from him since,” she said.

Concerns were also raised about advertising executive Lizi Hamer but a friend posted on Facebook yesterday to say that she and her partner were safe.

“They’re both safe and sound. Lizi says they missed the storm and are going to be back next week. They’re out of reach due to poor signal,” they wrote.

On Friday a British survivor described how he escaped the Himalayan mountaineering disaster.

Paul Sheridan, a 49-year-old policeman from South Yorkshire, said walkers were left stumbling through “an abyss of nothing” as dense snow left them unable to orient themselves on the slopes of the Annapurna range in northern Nepal.

He said trekkers should have been prevented from going up the mountain, but were “herded to their deaths” by guides who he alleged were not carrying the correct emergency equipment.

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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