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(LEAD) Body assumed to be of missing Korean trekking group member found in Annapurna

All News 19:08 April 27, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with new development)

NEW DELHI/HONGSEONG, South Korea, April 27 (Yonhap) -- A body assumed to be of a member of a South Korean trekking group that went missing in a deadly avalanche in Annapurna, Nepal, in January has been discovered by Nepalese authorities, officials said Monday.

According to diplomatic sources and trekkers in Nepal, local residents and Nepalese military personnel who have been searching the accident scene have found part of a body in melting snow.

The search workers combed the snow-covered area and found a body, covered in ice and snow, the sources said. The authorities were working to retrieve the frozen body out of the snow mass, but torrential rain and the harsh climate were impeding the efforts, according to the sources.

The local search workers are presuming that the body is one of the three members of the South Korean trekking team who are still missing, and they plan to identify the body as soon as it is retrieved.

Four South Korean school teachers and three Nepalese trekking guides went missing in January when an avalanche hit the Annapurna region in Nepal.

After the bodies of two of the Nepalese guides were found first, local authorities discovered the bodies of two of the South Korean teachers -- a man and a woman -- over the weekend.

Currently, two South Korean teachers and one Nepalese guide remain unaccounted for in the famous trekking area.

South Korean rescuers and Nepalese authorities carried out an extensive search project after the accident in mid-January. In late January, however, the search workers walked out of the accident scene due to prohibitively worsening weather conditions.

The melting of snow in the area in recent weeks is clearing the trekking course, leading to the recent discoveries.

Local authorities are also planning to move the two recently identified bodies to a hospital in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, although it remains unclear whether the bodies could be safely brought home due to the ongoing lockdown in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This image, captured from the Facebook account of Tourist Police Pokhara, shows local search efforts in Annapurna, Nepal. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

pbr@yna.co.kr
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