Nepal: 2,500 tourists stranded at Lukla airport

The airport is popular since Lukla is the place where most people start their climb of Mount Everest.

Last Updated: Nov 04, 2011, 19:05 PM IST

Kathmandu: Around 2,500 foreign tourists,
mainly Europeans have been stranded for the last five days at
the Lukla Airport, the Gateway to Mt Everest due to bad
weather.

As regular flights from Kathmandu Airport to Lukla
near the Everest base camp have been disrupted for the past
five days, thousands of tourists visiting the area could not
return to the capital, according to Secretary in the Ministry
for Tourism and Civil Aviation Ganesh Raj Sharma.

"We have requested Nepal Army to arrange a helicopter
for rescuing the stranded tourists from Lukla in Solukhumbu
district," he said.

The airport is popular since Lukla is the place where
most people start their climb of Mount Everest.
Besides the foreign tourists hundreds of tourist
guides and local people have also been stranded in the
mountain region.

However, Nepal Army spokesman Ramindra Chhetri said
that due to low visibility a rescue helicopter sent by the
Army had to return back to the capital without landing in
Lukla airport in the afternoon.

"We will continue the rescue efforts on Saturday and
do our best for carrying out rescue works," he added.

Meanwhile, the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA)
and the Tourism Crisis Cell (TCC) have called an emergency
meeting Friday to discuss ways to expedite the rescue works in
the area.

Lukla airport is one of the busiest airports in Nepal,
where as many as 55 flights are conducted daily to the
airport during the peak season.

PTI