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Adventure operator Intrepid Travel says all 168 holidaymakers in Nepal have been accounted for in the wake of Saturday’s devastating earthquake, aftershock and avalanches triggered on Mount Everest.
Twenty four of the 168 were British and all were safe despite hundreds of climbers being trapped on the mountain and reports of 18 people being killed and 61 injured as avalanches hit Base Camp.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said there were no reports of any Britons being killed or injured.
Nepal’s tourism minister Deepak Chanda Amatya told the BBC that more than 50 climbers had been rescued.
A state of emergency was declared following the 7.9-magnitude quake near Pokhara in Nepal in the early hours of Saturday morning which left the death toll exceeding 3,000 and 6,500 injured.
The FCO advised against all but essential travel to Nepal as international rescue teams flew in to the capital of Kathmandu to assist with the rescue efforts.
“If you are in a safe place, you should stay where you are until it is safe to leave,” the FCO said. “You should follow any advice provided by the local authorities. If you can leave Nepal safely then we advise that you should do so.”
Intrepid cancelled all trips due to travel in Nepal up to and including May 11 and is offering refunds or the opportunity to postpone travel.
“We will be continuing to monitor the situation and will review our subsequent trips as appropriate,” the operator said.
Thomas Cook said none of its brands had any clients in Nepal at the time of the quake while Thomson and First Choice do not operate to the country.
Intrepid Travel said: “We can confirm that travellers on all trips that were operating in Nepal and the affected area when the earthquake hit have been accounted for, and that they are safe and well.
“Our local team in Kathmandu has been working hard to ensure the ongoing safety and comfort of those travellers, and make onward arrangements for their travel as soon as we are able to do so.
“However, aftershocks have cause further damage to roads and infrastructure, which means plans to transport our clients back to Kathmandu to fly out asap have been postponed while an assessment is made on the best method to do so.”
All groups were due stay in their current accommodation for the night and the situation was being reassessed today (Monday).
“In terms of flights, the international airport is operating at limited capacity so it is possible that our clients will have to wait a number of days before getting flights out. Domestic flights are also very limited so those in the Everest region may also need to wait a number of days to fly out,” the operator said.
“Intrepid’s next priority has been to identify and establish contact with any of our customers that we believe may be in the region, but were not travelling with us when the earthquake struck. This includes travellers who may have been about to start, or had just finished and Intrepid group trip.
“We are working closely with our local operations team to do all possible to identify and contact those travelers to ensure their safety and welfare.”
Communications in Nepal remain difficult. Aftershocks continue to occur, and landlines and internet connections are down.
Intrepid Group managing director James Thornton said: “We can confirm that our clients are safe and well and we continue to work hard to get them back to Kathmandu and onto flights out of the country as soon as possible under some extremely trying circumstances.
“Each group outside of Kathmandu is with an experienced leader and those within Kathmandu are being looked after by the office team directly.”
An emergency line for friends and family was set up on +61 (0) 406 382 597.
Intrepid launched an appeal to assist with emergency relief in Nepal through its not-for-profit The Intrepid Foundation.
The appeal will raise funds for partner Plan International, which has sent emergency teams to respond to the needs of children and families affected in the Kathmandu Valley.
Intrepid is encouraging travellers to give to the appeal by matching all donations to the appeal dollar-for-dollar, up to A$20,000 or up to a maximum of A$5,000 total per donor.
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