TIME Nepal

‘No Chance’ of Finding 159 Nepal Landslide Victims

Nepal Flooding
Nepalese security personnel gather for rescue work at the site of a landslide in Sindhupalchowk area, about 120 km (75 miles) east of Katmandu, Nepal, on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. Dinesh Gole—AP Photo

After finding two more bodies on Monday, the death toll has now reached 10

(KATMANDU, Nepal) — Rescuers recovered two more bodies, taking the death toll to 10 from a massive weekend landslide in northern Nepal, but said there was no chance of finding alive any of the more than 150 people believed still buried under the rubble.

Police and army rescuers helped by villagers resumed their search Monday through piles of rock, mud and upturned trees.

Gopal Parajuli, the chief government administrator in the area, said they were using bulldozers and excavators to dig through the debris in some areas.

Rescuers were also trying to carve out temporary roads to reach people stranded on the other side of Arniko highway, a route that connects Katmandu with northern districts and the border with China.

The landslide that struck early Saturday blocked a mountain river, causing it to back up and form a lake that was threatening to burst and sweep away several villages, although Parajuli said the water level was slowly falling.

Officials have, however, ruled out finding anyone alive.

“We have no chance of finding any of the missing people alive under this pile of debris,” said Yadav Prasad Koirala, who heads the government’s Department of Natural Disaster Management. “We have the names of 159 people who are believed to be missing and buried, but there could be even more people.”

The landslide Saturday morning crushed dozens of houses in the village of Mankha, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Katmandu, Nepal’s capital.

Controlled explosions by the army on Saturday managed to knock down part of an earth wall that had blocked a river and created a temporary dam, allowing some water to flow out, but much of it still remained trapped, posing a threat to downstream villages as far away as India.

A Mankha resident who was among the dozens of people injured by the landslide said he feared his entire village had been wiped out.

Durga Lal Shrestha said there were nearly 100 people in the 60 houses in his village and 20 more people in a neighboring village who were buried by the landslide.

Shrestha, who suffered bruises on his face and arms, said he and his family heard a rumbling sound and felt the ground shake.

“The walls in my house caved in, but the roof was fine and that is how we were able to survive,” he said.

In neighboring India’s Bihar state, authorities evacuated thousands of villagers after flood warnings were issued in eight districts. Indian soldiers, and air force helicopters and jets were being readied to launch relief and rescue operations, said Anirudh Prasad, a top official in Patna, Bihar’s capital.

Landslides are common in mostly mountainous Nepal during the rainy season, which runs from June through September.

___

Associated Press writer Indrajit Singh in Patna, India, contributed to this repo

TIME Nepal

Nepal’s Impoverished Kidney Village, Where Organs Come Cheap

Man Bahadur Tamang, 51, who sold his kidney for 64,000 Nepalese rupees ($727) due to poverty, shows the incision scar from the operation, at his home in Kavre
Man Bahadur Tamang, 51, who sold his kidney for 64,000 Nepalese rupees ($727) due to poverty, shows the incision scar from the operation at his home in Kavre on Sept. 4, 2012. © Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters—REUTERS

In the mud-brick village of Hokshe, desperate Nepalese have been persuaded, or tricked, into selling a precious kidney for a pittance

In 2002, Kenam Tamang was duped into parting with a kidney by his own son-in-law. The ruse was a simple one, sweetened by the lure of work and a steady income – something he had been bereft of for too long. The two would leave their village of Hokshe in the Himalayan foothills east of Kathmandu, cut a line south and cross the border into India. Several days later, they would arrive in the southern coastal city of Chennai, ending a migratory passage that hundreds of thousands of Nepalese laborers had plied before them.

He hung around in Chennai for a month before being introduced to a group of Indian men — friends of his son-in-law who would arrange the work, he was told. “But one night, I heard them talking about kidney, but could not understand the whole conversation properly, which was in Hindi. And the next day, I was escorted to the hospital, where I was told that they are taking out my kidney.” Kenam, 48 at the time, turned to his son-in-law. “He said I will get a good amount for the kidney and there will not be any health complications. He even said that it would grow back.”

Hokshe is a cluster of mud-brick homes, flanked by fields of corn, sitting high up in the hills that circle Kathmandu. The arterial roads heading west from the village serve as tributaries that feed the capital with an ever fluid labor force made up of young and old, men and women, who see little point in staying at home to farm small patches of land for less than $2 a day. But the village carries a dark secret: of the 75 households in one ward alone, almost all have at least one member who has sold a kidney. Some, like Kenam, are duped into doing so; others are only too willing. From the days of the early ’90s, when the first villager was approached by brokers with the attractive offer of more than a year’s wages in return for an organ, the trade has taken on almost fad-like proportions.

Kumari Sapkota, 42, stands outside her home in Ward 3 of Hokshe. Her hands and clothes are caked in a chalky mud from working the field of corn below the house. If the money was right, she would willingly sell her kidney. Her only hesitancy is that all too often, the fee offered by brokers rarely gets delivered; either that, or sellers find that by the time they resume their lives in Hokshe, much of it has been spent on travel and medicine. That was the fate of Kenam. After being reassured by his son-in-law, he agreed to undergo the operation for $700. The cash was handed over in full, but three months later, as the bus wound its way back up the hill to Hokshe, only $100 was left. The two of them had spent the intervening time in Kathmandu, where the fee was whittled away. “Some money was used for dieting and medicine to be used soon after the operation, while my son-in-law spent money on alcohol,” he laments.

The story of Ganesh Bahadur Damai, 40, from nearby Jyamdi village, echoes Kenam’s search for better-paid work in India — that is, until he found himself drunk in a room in Bangalore with a group of strangers. “I was given an injection which made me unconscious for 24 hours. When I awoke, I was in a hospital bed. They had taken my kidney.” Three months later he arrived back in Kathmandu, where he was handed a mere $150, with which he bought a small plot of land. People living with one kidney should have its function assessed annually. But, he says, “I have no money to go for a health checkup.”

Stories like this don’t deter Kumari, nor the seemingly dozens of other villagers here who see opportunities in the organ trade. Her husband is a kidney down, as is the friend who works the field of corn with her. One man, Krishna, says his brother-in-law and two other relatives have sold theirs. He tried four times, but all were unsuccessful — on one occasion, the recipient of his kidney died just before he arrived for a pre-op checkup in Kathmandu. Frustrated, he won’t try again. But others are only too keen.

One 19-year-old mother is actively looking for a buyer, but recent crackdowns by Nepalese police have taken out many of the middlemen. “If you know someone [a broker], tell him to come here!” she says, laughing. Her reason is blunt, and a sharp reminder that the money they’ll receive isn’t for indulgence, but for far more pressing concerns. “I can get one lakh [$1,000] for a kidney. My son’s future will be secure.” As the conversation winds on, and more women come up from the field, it becomes clear that the international kidney trade that feeds clinics across the subcontinent and beyond has a bountiful source in Hokshe.

“Hokshe is an example of how people can [be exploited],” says Dr. Rishi Raj Kafle, executive director of the National Kidney Center in Kathmandu. “These villagers see people who haven’t died and think, Why not?”

Back in the village, the sharp whiff of locally brewed moonshine that comes off the breath of many locals — even those who, with one kidney, really shouldn’t be drinking very much at all — points also to a lack of understanding about the health implications. That isn’t surprising. Every villager TIME spoke to was illiterate and would struggle to learn about or comprehend the side effects of a nephrectomy, which can include high blood pressure and reduced function in, or even failure of, the remaining kidney.

The emergence of a legal donor system, in which relatives of patients who require a new kidney can trade theirs for $2,000 of government money, has reduced the numbers of Nepalese traveling to India for operations. Police have also clamped down on the rackets that prey on villages like Hokshe, and in May they arrested 15 traders in a sting operation. But Dr. Kafle fears there could be many more Hokshes across Nepal, even though the only people who seem to be making money are the traders. “I’ve not found a single person who sold their kidney who is rich,” he says.

TIME Nepal

Climbers Start Leaving Everest As Sherpas Threaten to Strike

Mount Everest on Oct. 27, 2011.
Mount Everest seen in 2011. Kevin Frayer—AP

Some foreign mountaineers looking to ascend the world's highest peak in Nepal are divided between staying and going as Sherpas demand better compensation and improved safety conditions following a recent avalanche that killed 16 local guides

Some would-be Mount Everest climbers are packing up and heading home as some Sherpas threaten to strike after a deadly avalanche, the BBC reports.

The Sherpas, locals who do the heavy-lifting for foreign climbers seeking to make the treacherous ascent, are demanding better financial treatment and improved safety conditions in the wake of a disaster that killed 16 of their colleagues.

Top Nepalese tourism officials are attempting to negotiate with the Sherpas in an effort to save this year’s climbing season. The Everest climb is all but impossible for foreign visitors without the help, knowledge and labor of the experienced Sherpas, who currently make from $3,000 to $6,000 each season. The country’s tourism ministry expressed hope that the talks between the Sherpas and the Nepalese government might salvage at least some of the season, which generates about $3.3 million annually for Nepal in climbing fees alone.

More than 300 foreign climbers were set to scale Everest’s peak this year. However, last week’s fatal accident caused many to head home over concerns for their own safety regardless of the Sherpas’ threats to strike.

[BBC and Independent]

TIME Nepal

Mount Everest Avalanche Witness: ‘It Looked Like a Big Snake Coming Down The Mountain’

Mount Everest on Oct. 27, 2011.
Mount Everest seen in 2011. Kevin Frayer—AP

American climber Joby Ogwyn was at base camp on Mount Everest when the deadliest avalanche in the mountain's recorded history rolled down the side, killing at least 13 Nepalese Sherpas and sparking resentment over working conditions on expeditions

Joby Ogwyn was planning to jump off the summit of Mount Everest. Instead he went to funerals for his Sherpas.

There are some 50,000 Sherpas in the world, according to some estimates, mountain-dwelling people best known for the livelihood the Nepalese Sherpas have made helping tourists scale Mount Everest. At at least 13 of them were killed this month in the deadliest avalanche in the mountain’s recorded history—proportionally, that would be like a loss of about 100,000 Americans in a single day. Dozens of Nepalese Sherpas staged a walkout at the Mount Everest base camp on Wednesday, in honor of the fallen and in reaction to a tragedy that has sparked resentment over their working conditions. The mountain is closed, and long-planned expeditions are being canceled, some by teams who lost their guides in the avalanche and want to respect their memories by standing down this season, even if the mountain reopens.

One of those teams is Ogwyn’s. The American climber was set to do the first wing-suit jump off the summit of Everest, to be broadcast live by the Discovery Channel later this month. In the wake of the avalanche, the grand adventure that was hatched two years ago has been scrapped. Discovery is eating many of those costs and will instead be airing a special documentary on May 4 about the aftermath of the avalanche, which it inadvertently had camera teams in place to capture.

TIME spoke to Ogwyn from his hotel in Kathmandu about what it was like to be on the ground when the mountain came tumbling down, what he remembers of the guides that their team lost, and why he has no regrets.

“It looked like a big snake coming down the mountain through the ice fall,” Ogwyn recalls of when he first saw the avalanche. “And I saw all my guides with the other Sherpa on ladders, going up a big vertical section of ice. And the avalanche just came down right on top of them. I knew it was bad, but obviously I didn’t realize how bad it would be.”

Here’s his interview with TIME, lightly edited and condensed.

When did you arrive in Nepal and what was the trip to base camp like?

I arrived on April 4, and I was here for a couple days. Then my team took a small airplane ride to the city of Luqa and 9,000 feet. We proceeded to trek in, and it took about seven days to arrive at base camp. On the third day we were there, we had our puja ceremony, which is the blessing of all the members of the team. And it was really the most beautiful puja ceremony I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot. Each expedition has their own. They have a lama that comes. It’s a celebration, but it’s really a prayer for safe passage up the mountain. We had a really great day there and bonded with all our friends, our Sherpa, our staff from base camp.

And then what happened?

The very next day, our guides were going to take some equipment to the first camp. We had planned on going the following day. That morning that they went up, I was awake very early in my tent. It was about 6:45 a.m. if I remember right, and I heard the avalanche.

There’s a lot of little avalanches that happen when you’re at base camp. You’re on a glacier and everything is creaking and cracking, so you get used to hearing those types of things. And usually you don’t look outside your tent unless you really hear that it’s a big avalanche. Because they’re quite powerful and, in some ways, quite beautiful. But the one that I heard [even though it didn't sound big], I could hear that it was coming from the ice fall. And I knew my guides and a lot of other guides were up there. I zipped the tent fly back and looked out.

I couldn’t see it at first. It had happened a little further back on the mountain, where the piece had broken off. And then I saw it. It looked like a big snake coming down the mountain through the ice fall. And I saw all my guides with the other Sherpa on ladders, going up a big vertical section of ice. And the avalanche just came down right on top of them. I knew it was bad, but obviously I didn’t realize how bad it would be.

How could you tell, when you heard the avalanche, how big it was?

The way that it works on the really big mountains in the Himalayas, it’s not like an avalanche you would have in Colorado, where it looks like a little slab that breaks off and it’s soft snow. This is all ice. The mountains are so big and so high, they’re on these glaciers. And at some moment, a piece of it breaks off. When it hits, it falls for so long, tumbling down the mountain, it brings so much energy and speed and power, that when that piece breaks, it just turns it into pieces of shrapnel that are made out of ice. And whatever it hits, it destroys.

This one, it seemed to me, came from a piece of ice that was not hanging quite as high. It wasn’t as loud or as fast-moving as I had seen many others. There were people that had gotten away from it, people who saw it and outran it. And the people behind them, once it got to them, it had more speed and pushed them back into the ice fall. … I knew that some people had probably died, been killed by the upper, bigger part of it. But I was hoping that the guides that I saw get covered up just got a dusting. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

So what did you do in those moments after you looked out of your tent and saw the avalanche covering your guides?

I put my clothes on very quickly, got out of my tent. In other camps I started to hear people talking and yelling at each other. Our radios lit up. I walked into the our communications tent where our camp manager was and we just started to try to make contact on the radio with our guides. We made contact with some guides up there who weren’t on our team and were asking about our team members. You could hear in the background on the radio, guys were scrambling around, yelling back and forth. The Sherpa who had survived were working very hard to find the Sherpa that were covered up and were trying to dig them out, digging them out as fast as they could. Some they were finding very quickly were dead. Some they found still alive, or just covered up, and they managed to pull them out. But from what they were telling us, it was a brutal scene.

So very quickly, I would say within 12 minutes, all the Western teams had come together with their lead guides and were preparing for going up and assisting. We were getting helicopters mobilized, which was the part of the process that took the longest. It probably took an hour or two hours, which is still incredibly fast in this area because it’s just very remote. I was impressed with how fast people came together.

And what did you personally do in terms of recovery efforts? Was there much you could do at that point?

We knew that of our guides who were up there, three of them were missing and three were alive. And we also knew a lot of other people up there. So my climbing partner Garrett Madison and I, we geared up and we started walking into the ice fall. We walked up not quite halfway and our goal was to make sure that we tried to find our three guides and that we received our other three guides coming down. And every other Sherpa, we wanted to bring them food and water and medical equipment. One cameraman came up there and the two of us stayed in position there. It took us all day, until every single Sherpa was off the mountain.

My climbing partner went up the ice fall. He climbed all the way up to the actual avalanche zone, found our guides and unfortunately the three of them that we were working with, that we were going to go to the summit with, were all dead. He spent hours in this hot zone with several other guides basically chipping our guides out of the ice so we could do the body recovery for their families, which is very important in this part of the world, to retrieve the bodies of these guides. They were our guides, our Sherpa, our lead Sherpa. And this ice is really like concrete. It took a long time to get them out. And it just, really, was one of the more heroic things I’ve ever seen. What I did was trying to spot for those guys in case anything was coming down.

Eventually we got everybody off the mountain that we could. There were three guides who were missing who would be very difficult or impossible to find. But we did manage to get our three guides out and get their bodies in the helicopter back to Kathmandu so they could be cremated. We just had the funerals for them yesterday. It was a pretty massive crowd of people and it was just a very, very sad day. We definitely did everything we could to help our friends. I just wish that we could have done more.

When you think about it now, do you have any regrets about trying to have this adventure?

No, I don’t have any regerets at all. What happened was just an unfortunate one-in-a-billion accident, truly an act of God. It just was so random, out of nowhere. You have to remember that people have been climbing on Everest for over 50 years, and nothing like this has ever happened, especially in the last decades. The safety precautions and the way trips are organized has gotten really good. But unfortunately the mountain is what it is. It’s just a massive piece of nature. People do die on it every year. What’s really shocking about this particular instance is that it happened on the first day of climbing, essentially, right at the very beginning, and that is why it was all Sherpa.

My intention was to climb up the very first day, taking all the equipment we could carry and establishing that first camp. The only thing that kept me from being with these guides and being killed ourselves is that one of the producers wanted to do some shots with our equipment and from a scheduling point of view, we thought, we’ll get this out of the way and come up the next day. Literally, when they asked me, and I thought about it for an hour before saying, okay, let’s do it. The fact that I had to think about it for an hour really is scary to me now, because I almost said, Nah, I’m going to go up with my guides the first time. That one little choice saved my life.

Obviously you’re feeling some grief, but do you also feel very lucky?

Absolutely. I am destroyed for my guides, there’s no doubt about that. And I might have lost my team, but other Sherpa lost brothers and friends and cousins. It was just a catastrophe. Am I sad about my project? Of course. You know, I’m not the only person who put a massive amount of time and resources into it, and we had great weather and good conditions for the most part on the mountain. I’m quite convinced that if this hadn’t happened, we could have made everything work. But that’s really the least of my concerns right now. … Nobody is feeling sorry for themselves here.

Discovery will be running the documentary Everest Avalanche Tragedy on May 4 at 9 p.m. and contributing to the American Himalayan Foundation Sherpa Family Fund, which gives 100% of all donations to help families of the deceased. To make a donation, click here.

TIME Nepal

Nepal Agrees to Relief Fund for Sherpas to Keep Climbing Season Open

A Nepalese porter walks with his load from Everest base camp in Nepal
A Nepalese porter walks with his load from Everest base camp in Nepal on May 3, 2011 Laurence Tan—Reuters

Authorities in Nepal have offered to meet with Sherpas working in the Himalayas to negotiate better compensation for those killed or injured while helping mainly foreign climbers conquer the world's highest peaks

The Nepalese government has agreed in principle to meet the demands of the Sherpas set forth Monday, including setting up a relief fund for those injured or killed climbing in the Himalayas.

A government official told the New York Times that a relief fund would be financed by profits the Nepalese government makes from expeditions to Mount Everest. However, he did not specify the precise amount or functioning of the fund.

On Monday, hundreds of Sherpas threatened to cancel the spring climbing season if a list of 12 demands weren’t met by the government within one week.

They are demanding better compensation for the families of the 13 people confirmed killed in an avalanche on the world’s highest mountain last week. Three others are still missing and are unlikely to have survived.

The standard payment by the government is 40,000 rupees, or about $413, to each family, although they also receive around $10,000 from mandatory life-insurance policies. Sherpas also want improved working conditions, such as better pensions and educational assistance.

Tensions are also heating up on Mount Everest, where about 400 foreign climbers and an equal number of guides, as well as many more support staff, have been left in limbo pending the outcome of negotiations.

According to Tim Rippel, one of the expedition leaders currently on the mountain, “things are getting very complicated and there is a lot of tension here and it’s growing.”

“The Sherpa guides are heating up, emotions are running wild and demands are being made to the government to share the wealth with the Sherpa people,” he wrote in a blog post from base camp.

The Nepalese government has said it will negotiate the demands with Sherpa representatives in meetings Tuesday. However, it remains unclear if original demands for around $100,000 per individual killed or disabled could be met by the impoverished nation’s government.

TIME Television

Discovery Channel Cancels Everest Jump After Deadly Avalanche

Relatives of mountaineers, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, cry during the funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal on April 21, 2014.
Relatives of mountaineers, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, cry during the funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal on April 21, 2014. Niranjan Shrestha—AP

The channel has decided not to go ahead with its planned Everest Live Jump, following the deadliest day in Everest history, which killed at least 13 people last week

The Discovery Channel has canceled plans to air a live jump off the summit of Mount Everest following an avalanche that killed at least 13 people on the mountain last week.

“In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mount Everest and out of respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with Everest Jump Live,” the network said on its website. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community.”

Jumper Joby Ogwyn was already on site preparing for the televised event to air on May 11 when an avalanche killed a group of Sherpa guides and support staff in the deadliest day in the mountain’s history. Ogwyn was unharmed. The Discovery Channel had planned several hours of programming around the jump and hoped it would be a ratings draw, the Associated Press reports.

The Sherpa community is currently threatening to boycott the upcoming climbing season unless the Nepalese government provides more compensation to the families of those killed and injured. Three people are still missing.

TIME Nepal

Everest Climbing Season in Doubt as Sherpas Issue Ultimatum to Authorities

NEPAL-EVEREST-AVALANCHE-MOUNTAINEERING
Family members of the Everest avalanche victims light oil lamps at Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 20, 2014. Nepal has called off the search for three local guides still missing, citing weather conditions Prakash Mathema—AFP/Getty Images

The local Sherpa community has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Nepalese government, threatening to boycott the upcoming spring climbing season, after a meeting at Mount Everest’s base camp in the wake of last week's deadly avalanche

Nepal’s Sherpa community is calling on the government to provide more compensation to the families of the dead and injured after an avalanche last Friday on the slopes of Mount Everest killed at least 13 guides and support staff. Three climbers are still classified as missing.

On Sunday, a meeting was held at Mount Everest’s base camp, during which local guides, climbers and support staff hammered out a list of 12 demands to be met by the government within a week.

“The emergency joint meeting of guides and support staff, expedition leaders and climbers held at the base camp on April 20 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to address their demands and threaten to stop climbing if the demands are not met,” read a statement by the Nepal Mountaineering Association published on Monday.

Among the demands sent to Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the group called on the state to provide 10 million Nepalese rupee ($103,600) each to families of the deceased and critically injured, along with initiatives to increase the overall support infrastructure for local guides working in the Himalayas.

Sunday’s call to action comes as the Nepalese government mulls calling off the 2014 climbing season on the world’s highest peak. According to the Himalayan Times, a total of 334 mountaineers have been issued permits to attempt to climb Everest this season. If the trips are canceled the Nepalese government is required to reimburse the permits, which cost approximately $10,000 each.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” the Tourism Ministry spokesman Madhu Sudan Burlakoti told journalists, according to the Guardian. “We do not know what to do if they want their tax back. We will hold further discussions before deciding anything on this issue.”

Nepal’s Sherpas are lauded for their ability to withstand high altitudes and are widely regarded as some of the world’s hardiest mountaineers. Members of the ethnic group are the backbone of the Himalayan adventure-tourism industry, where they work as guides, porters and climbers.

However, Sherpas often toil under incredible mental and physical duress in order to maintain lucrative guide positions on Himalaya tour routes frequented by wealthy foreign adventurers.

Since Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary first conquered the world’s highest peak, more than 4,000 climbers have reached the Everest summit. Approximately 200 have died trying to reach the top.

The search mission for the three missing climbers was called off at the weekend because of poor weather conditions.

TIME Nepal

Avalanche Makes For Deadliest Day in Mt. Everest’s History

Nepalese mountaineer, Dawa Tashi Sherpa, survivor of the avalanche on Mount Everest, lies in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Grandi International Hospital in Kathmandu on April 18, 2014.
Nepalese mountaineer, Dawa Tashi Sherpa, survivor of the avalanche on Mount Everest, lies in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Grandi International Hospital in Kathmandu on April 18, 2014. Prakash Mathema—AFP/Getty Images

A morning avalanche near a base camp on the world's highest peak has left at least 12 Nepalese guides dead and several others missing. It's being called the deadliest day in the mountain's history

Updated 11:14 a.m. ET

An early-morning avalanche on the slopes of Mount Everest has killed at least 12 Nepalese Sherpas and left several more missing on Friday, in what’s being called the deadliest day in the mountain’s history.

A wall of snow overcame the local guides at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning near the mountain’s Camp 2 as they were preparing ropes on the route to the summit ahead of the spring climbing season, the Associated Press reports.

“Rescuers have already retrieved four bodies and they are now trying to pull out two more bodies that are buried under snow,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told AFP.

Sherpas are famous for their ability to weather high altitudes and are widely regarded as some of the best mountaineers in the world. A Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary were the first people to summit the world’s highest peak.

Today, many Sherpas work under incredible pressure, pushing their bodies to their physical limits in order to maintain lucrative guide positions in the service of usually affluent foreign mountaineers, who climb in the Himalayas as a form of adventure tourism.

To date, more than 4,000 climbers have reached Everest’s summit. An estimated 200 have died in the attempt.

[AP]

TIME Asia

Report: Tibetans in Nepal Are Suffering Under Growing Chinese Pressure

Nepal Tibetan Protest
Nepali policemen detain exiled Tibetans participating in a protest outside the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu on March 10, 2014 Niranjan Shrestha—Associated Press

Human Rights Watch says growing Chinese pressure on the Nepali government has led to restrictions and harassment of Tibetans seeking refuge in the country, traditionally a safe haven for those fleeing China's crackdown on religious freedom

Tibetans living in Nepal are facing increased restrictions and harassment because of growing pressure from China, according to a new report.

The report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch says Tibetans who have sought refuge in Nepal are suffering from “routine abuses” by Nepali security forces and a de facto ban on political protests and other activities promoting culture and religion from Tibet.

“Nepal is invoking vague and inconsistent justifications to silence peaceful protest, discriminate against Tibetans and intimidate Nepali civil society activists,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

For decades Nepal has played a crucial role for Tibetans fleeing China’s growing crackdown on religious freedom, but in recent years China has increased pressure on Nepal.

TIME Nepal

Nepal to Mount Everest Trekkers: Pick Up Your Trash

NEPAL-ENVIRONMENT-POLLUTION-EVEREST-FILES
A Nepalese sherpa collects garbage left by climbers at an altitude of 8,000 metres during the Everest clean-up expedition at Mount Everest, on May 23, 2010. Namgyal Sherpa—AFP/Getty Images

Cracking down on litter bugs on the world's tallest peak

As part of a series of overhauls for this year’s trekking season on Mount Everest, Nepal has demanded that climbers bring back their own trash in a bid to keep the roof of the world cleaner.

Kapindra Rai of the mountain’s pollution control committee said that if new climbers made sure to clean up their litter, “we can be assured that no new garbage will be added,” the Associated Press reports. More than 4,000 climbers have reached the 29,035-foot summit of Mount Everest since New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay did so in 1953.

The volume of climbers has contributed to the waste on the mountain, with of food wrappers and mountain equipment littering part of the routes. Private trekking companies have previously been tasked with cleaning up the garbage left behind by climbers. But experts say it is unclear how much rubbish is still remaining despite these efforts, as it has been covered by ice and snow over the years.

To enforce the new rules, the Nepalese government is setting up the first-ever Everest base camp where officials will ensure that climbers descend with 18 pounds of trash each.

[AP]

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