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Nepal earthquake may have weakened moraine dams, say scientists

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Moraine dammed lakes may also have weakened during the devastating earthquake that shook Nepal on April 25. The scientists today said that the weakening of lakes could result in floods in future.

“The threat of further landslides and glacier lake outbursts may increase as snow begins to melt and the monsoon kicks in,” Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) said in a statement.

The institute is monitoring the recent topographical changes by analyzing the latest satellite images and communicating the findings to the Nepalese government and relief agencies. Some slopes may have been washed away by the earthquake, which could lead to other landslides. “There is an urgent need to assess the impact of landslides for immediate rescue efforts and monitor potential hazards in the future,” ICIMOD said.

Immediately after the disaster, ICIMOD formed a team to analyze the updated satellite images that have been provided from space agencies around the globe. They also set up a webpage to provide latest images, data and information about the recent situation in Nepal.

The team also set up an office near the airport to provide live weather forecasts to the passengers and airport authorities. They provide Google Earth 3D images to help pilots to locate unfamiliar terrain and appropriate landing spots.

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9 Climbers Pulled From Snow After A Sudden Storm On Mount Gurja, Nepal

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

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Mount Gurja
Tourists take pictures at Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Mount Annapurna range in the background, some 200 km (124 miles) west of Kathmandu, Nov. 30, 2008. Annapurna, at 8,091 meters high, is the 10th highest mountain in the world.. VOA

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the mountaineering community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 meters (yards) away.

“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Mount Gurja
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp.

A second helicopter along with a team of rescue specialists and villagers were also involved in the mission, which has been hampered by strong winds as well as the camp’s remoteness in the Dhaulagiri mountain range of Nepal’s Annapurna region.

The bodies of the climbers, five South Koreans and four Nepalis, will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

‘Like a bomb went off’

The expedition’s camp was destroyed by the powerful storm, which hit the area late Thursday or Friday, flattening all the tents and leaving a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

Mount Gurja
Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, organised the expedition

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Experts puzzled

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Also Read: Nepal Saves Its Tiger Population, Doubles It

“At this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places,” Richards said.

The team had been on 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route. (VOA)