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Overcrowding leaves 3 dead and 2 missing at Mount Everest

After Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became first conqueror in 1953, more than 4,000 climbers have reached the 29,035-foot-high peak.

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Everest. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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KATHMANDU, Nepal —After the death of a Dutch and an Australian climbers a couple of days before, now an Indian has died while being helped down the Everest and two other Indian climbers went missing. The experts say some of the tragedy might have been avoided.

Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said on Monday that overcrowding on top might have caused delay for people at highest reaches while waiting for the path to clear down. Poor planning is also one of the reason behind the delay.

“This was a man-made disaster that may have been minimized with better management of the teams,” he said. “The last two disasters on Everest were caused by nature.

Mount Everest,1975 climbing route on Southwest Face. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Mount Everest,1975 climbing route on Southwest Face. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

After deadly disasters in the previous years, many climbers hoped that this year’s climbing season will be a success and restore confidence in the route. But as many turned up to take advantage of good weather and make it to the top , reports of disaster began trickling down the mountain

Eric Arnold, a 35-year-old Dutch man died on his way down from the top by altitude sickness. Many hours later, Maria Strydom a 34-year-old Australian woman died near the peak, suffering from the same altitude sickness

On last Monday, an Indian climber Subhash Paul was reported as the 3rd death succumbing to altitude sickness overnight as he was being helped down the mountain by Sherpa guides, said Wangchu Sherpa of the Trekking Camp Nepal agency in Kathmandu.

Sunitra Hazra an Indian woman from Paul’s team was found resting at a lower altitude camp after becoming ill higher up. Paresh Nath and Goutam Ghosh, other two Indian climber have been missing since Saturday. It is unlikely that they would have survived Everest’s hostile conditions said Wangchu Sherpa.

Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition team members. Taken in 1921. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition team members. Taken in 1921. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many other climber have gotten frostbite or become sick near the summit in recent days, including Robert Gropal husband of Australian women and was taken to hospital in Kathmandu by helicopter on Monday for treatment.

The competition between expedition organizers has caused dropping in their prices, which has led to poor equipment , less oxygen tanks and experienced guides to help climbers reach the top said Tshering.

“Teams are hiring raw guides that have no knowledge of responding to situations of emergency,” he said.

After Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became first conqueror in 1953, more than 4,000 climbers have reached the 29,035-foot-high peak.

This year nearly 400 climbers reached the summit on May 11 and Nepal government had issued permit to only 289 climber. Each climber who paid $11,000 to the government, plus another $25,000-$50,000 to an expedition company that provides guides, equipment and, often, bottled oxygen to use at high altitudes where the atmosphere is thin and these climbers accompanied by 400 Sherpa guides from Nepal.

Nepal and the Everest climbing community had been anxious for a successful season this year. The industry brings more than $3 million from permit fees alone into the poor, Himalayan country each year, and thousands of locals depend on the climbing season for secondary work as porters, hotel keepers or cooks.

People of Everest climbing community and people depending on climbing season were anxious for a successful season this year.The industry brings more than $3 million from permit fees alone into the poor, Himalayan country each year

2015’s devastating earthquake created an avalanche that killed around 19 people at Base Camp, ending all the climbing activities for that year and one year before icefall on glacier which is the route to the top killed 16 and made impossible for other to climb that season.

But while hundreds have died trying to reach the top of Everest due to avalanches, altitude sickness, exposure and other dangers, the use of bottled oxygen and better equipment had helped reduce the number of deaths each year. Satellite communication equipment and better medical facilities have also helped prevent tragedy.

Many have died trying to conquer the top of Everest because of avalanche. Altitude sickness, exposure and other dangers, but use of oxygen and better equipment’s has helped in reducing the number of deaths over the years.

Better satellite communication equipment and medical facilities have helped in preventing tragedies. Still, some people criticize expedition companies for taking new climber to Everest without any mountaineering experience.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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Most Terrible Water Crisis Ever In History Leaves Millions Of Indians Thirsty

6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water.

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A woman washes clothes as her daughter bathes in the Yamuna River on a hot day in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2017.
A woman washes clothes as her daughter bathes in the Yamuna River on a hot day in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2017. VOA

Weak infrastructure and a national shortage have made water costly all over India, but Sushila Devi paid a higher price than most. It took the deaths of her husband and son to force authorities to supply it to the slum she calls home.

“They died because of the water problem, nothing else,” said Devi, 40, as she recalled how a brawl over a water tanker carrying clean drinking water in March killed her two relatives and finally prompted the government to drill a tubewell.

“Now things are better. But earlier … the water used to be rusty, we could not even wash our hands or feet with that kind of water,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Delhi.

India is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history”, threatening hundreds of millions of lives and jeopardising economic growth, a government think-tank report said in June.

From the northern Himalayas to the sandy, palm-fringed beaches in the south, 600 million people – nearly half India’s population – face acute water shortage, with close to 200,000 dying each year from polluted water.

Residents like Devi queue daily with pipes, jerry cans and buckets in hand for water from tankers – a common lifeline for those without a safe, reliable municipal supply – often involving elbowing, pushing and punching.

On the rare occasions water does flow from taps, it is often dirty, leading to disease, infection, disability and even death, experts say.

“The water was like poison,” said Devi, who still relies on the tanker for drinking water, outside her one-room shanty in the chronically water-stressed Wazirpur area of the capital Delhi.

“It is better now, but still it is not completely drinkable. It is alright for bathing and washing the dishes.”

Water pollution is a major challenge, the report said, with nearly 70 percent of India’s water contaminated, impacting three in four Indians and contributing to 20 percent of the country’s disease burden.

Yet only one-third of its wastewater is currently treated, meaning raw sewage flows into rivers, lakes and ponds – and eventually gets into the groundwater.

“Our surface water is contaminated, our groundwater is contaminated. See, everywhere water is being contaminated because we are not managing our solid waste properly,” said the report’s author Avinash Mishra.
Loss of livelihood

Meanwhile, unchecked extraction by farmers and wealthy residents has caused groundwater levels to plunge to record lows, says the report.

It predicts that 21 major cities, including New Delhi and India’s IT hub of Bengaluru, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.

The head of WaterAid India VK Madhavan said the country’s groundwater was now heavily contaminated.

“We are grappling with issues, with areas that have arsenic contamination, fluoride contamination, with salinity, with nitrates,” he said, listing chemicals that have been linked to cancer.

Arsenic and fluoride occur naturally in the groundwater, but become more concentrated as the water becomes scarcer, while nitrates come from fertilisers, pesticides and other industrial waste that has seeped into the supply.

The level of chemicals in the water was so high, he said, that bacterial contamination – the source of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid – “is in the second order of problems”.

“Poor quality of water – that is loss of livelihood. You fall ill because you don’t have access to safe drinking water, because your water is contaminated.”

Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.
Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater. pixabay

“The burden of not having access to safe drinking water, that burden is greatest on the poor and the price is paid by them.”

Frothy lakes and rivers

Crippling water problems could shave 6 percent off India’s gross domestic product, according to the report by the government think-tank, Niti Aayog.

“This 6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water. Our industry, our food security, everything will be at stake,” said Mishra.

“It is a finite resource. It is not infinite. One day it can (become) extinct,” he said, warning that by 2030 India’s water supply will be half of the demand.

To tackle this crisis, which is predicted to get worse, the government has urged states – responsible for supplying clean water to residents – to prioritise treating waste water to bridge the supply and demand gap and to save lives.

Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.

Every year, Bengaluru and New Delhi make global headlines as their heavily polluted water bodies emit clouds of white toxic froth due to a mix of industrial effluents and domestic garbage dumped into them.

In Bengaluru – once known as the “city of lakes” and now doomed to go dry – the Bellandur Lake bursts into flames often, sending plumes of black smoke into sky.

The Yamuna river that flows through New Delhi can be seen covered under a thick, detergent-like foam on some days.

On other days, faeces, chemicals and ashes from human cremations float on top, forcing passers-by to cover their mouths and noses against the stench.

That does not stop 10-year-old Gauri, who lives in a nearby slum, from jumping in every day.

With no access to water, it is the only way to cool herself down during India’s scorching summers, when temperatures soar to 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).

“There usually is not enough water for us to take a shower, so we come here,” said Gauri, who only gave her first name, as she and her brother splashed around in the filthy river.

Also read: India’s bulging water crisis: Is it too late for us to do something?

“It makes us itchy and sick, but only for some time. We are happy to have this, everyone can use it.” (VOA)