Over 2,500 tourists still stranded near Everest base camp

With the help of private airlines operating small helicopters some 500 tourists stranded in Lukla, gateway to Mt Everest, have been rescued over the past three days beginning from Friday.

Lukla, which lies at a height of 2,800 metres (9,186 feet), is located 125 km (78 miles) northeast of the Nepali capital.

Hundreds of foreign tourists have been stranded in the remote mountain region for about a week due to bad weather and their number had climbed to over 3,000 with daily hundreds of tourists coming to Lukla from various trekking routes.

More than 2,500 tourists, including Americans, Britons and Germans, are still waiting to be airlifted from Lukla as Nepal Army's MI 17 helicopter could not land in the Lukla Airport today for the second time.

Nepal Army has said that bad weather and low visibility had hampered rescue operation.
However, an official at Himalayan Rescue Association expressed dissatisfaction over the army's rescue works.

Some private organisations with their limited capacity area doing whatever they can to rescue the stranded passengers, said Bikram Neupane, president of Himalayan Rescue Association.

The prices of daily commodities have soared up and the stock of meat and vegetables is running empty.

Many tourists are forced to sleep in small tents, open ground of the airport and even dining halls of Lukla hotels.

The Everest base camp is a big draw with tourists visiting Nepal, with thousands flocking to the region during the current peak season.

Around 700 travellers fly in and out of Lukla on a normal day, when weather condition is good.

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