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(3rd LD) 4 S. Korean trekkers go missing after avalanche hits Annapurna

National 14:52 January 18, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with latest info; ADDS 2nd photo)

SEOUL/NEW DELHI, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- Four South Korean trekkers have gone missing after an avalanche hit the circuit trekking route of Annapurna in Nepal, Seoul's foreign ministry said Saturday.

The incident took place at an altitude of 3,230 meters at around 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. (local time) on Friday, according to the ministry. Five other South Korean members of the crew are safe and taking shelter in a lodge.

Bad weather conditions are hampering search operations using helicopters, according to the ministry.

As of Saturday morning, Nepalese police were moving to the site of the incident on foot, and a helicopter is on standby to transfer the surviving people to Pokhara.

This EPA-Yonhap file photo shows Annapurna in Nepal in 2017. (Yonhap)

The missing trekkers -- two women in their 30s and 50s and two men in their 50s -- are teachers who were staying in Nepal for volunteer work.

The South Chungcheong Province Office of Education said a total of 11 teachers from 10 schools left South Korea on Monday to take part in the program which was scheduled to run until next Saturday.

The other two teachers were staying at accommodations due to health issues.

According to foreign media, three Nepalis also went missing due to the incident.

A South Korean emergency team comprised of officials at the foreign ministry and the education office, as well as those from the tourist agency, left for Nepal earlier in the day. Six members of the affected people's families accompanied the officials.

The South Korean mission in Nepal has requested active search operations in the area to the local authorities and vowed utmost efforts to provide necessary support to the families of the victims, the ministry said.

This photo, taken on Jan. 18, 2020, shows officials at the South Chungcheong Province Office of Education gathered at the headquarters in Hongseong, 150 kilometers south of Seoul, after four South Korean teachers went missing while trekking in Annapurna, Nepal, the previous day due to an avalanche. (Yonhap)


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