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Nepal urged to improve weather warnings after climbing tragedy

Five South Koreans and four local sherpas died on a remote Himalayan mountain.

General view of Mount Everest and the Himalayas (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
General view of Mount Everest and the Himalayas (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The incident that claimed the lives of nine climbers on a Himalayan mountain has sparked calls for a weather warning system.

The bodies of five South Koreans killed in a fierce storm last week on a mountain in Nepal were set to head home on Tuesday.

Mountaineers and officials gathered at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu offering flowers and burning incense by the bodies, which were kept in wooden coffins.

Every time there is a disaster on the mountain, we all seek ways to prevent these deaths, but soon we forget about it Santa Bir Lama

The bodies were driven to the airport where they were to be put on a plane to Seoul.

Officials said they would push the government to improve the weather warning systems to prevent disasters and minimise loss of lives in the future.

“Every time there is a disaster on the mountain, we all seek ways to prevent these deaths, but soon we forget about it,” said Santa Bir Lama, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

“We are going to ask the government to install equipment to warn about weather conditions on the mountain.”

Friends and relatives stand near coffins containing bodies of the South Korean climbers (Bikram Rai/AP)

The five South Koreans and four Nepalese guides died when they were swept by a storm on Gurja Himal mountain’s base camp on Friday night.

Rescuers only reached the area a day later and took two days to have their bodies recovered and brought back to Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.

Mr Lama said there are some weather forecast systems in use, but those are all concentrated on Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak.

Gurja is not one of the region’s tallest or more popular peaks.

The last time climbers were known to be on the mountain was eight years ago.

Family members of Nepalese guides cry as the bodies arrive back (Niranjan Shrestha/AP)

“I am going take the initiative and demand with the government to install these weather warning systems on smaller mountains,” said parliament member Rajendra Prasad Gautam, who was at the hospital on Tuesday.

Among those killed was Kim Chang-ho, the first South Korean to conquer all 14 Himalayan peaks over 8,000 metres (26,250 feet) without using supplemental oxygen.

Mountaineering friends who gathered at the hospital said Mr Kim was a good person and an expert climber who was looking for adventure and challenges.

“He was always looking to discover routes that have not been explored and try new things on the mountain,” said a Nepalese friend, Ang Dorje, who Mr Kim had promised to meet after returning from the mountain.

There is already a warning system on Mount Everest (David Cheskin/PA)

“He did not want to do what others did.

“He was a pure adventure seeker who loved the mountains and adventure,” said Loben Sherpa, who helped Kim during his many trips to Nepal’s mountains.

It was the deadliest climbing disaster in Nepal since 2015, when 19 people were killed at Mount Everest base camp by an avalanche triggered by an earthquake that devastated the country.

The previous year, an avalanche above Everest’s base camp killed 16 Nepalese Sherpa guides.



From Belfast Telegraph