Tourists rescued from Qomolangma

Updated: 2013-10-16 00:46

By WANG HUAZHONGin Lhasa (China Daily)

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Tourists rescued from Qomolangma

Soldiers from the Border Defense Force in Xigaze prefecture in the Tibet autonomous region register tourists who were rescued after being stranded by a heavy snowstorm at the Mount Qomolangma base camp on Tuesday. At least 86 tourists were evacuated. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

All tourists stranded by a snowstorm at the northern base camp of Mount Qomolangma were evacuated on Tuesday.

They were taken to safe areas in the neighboring village of Zhaxizom and Dingri, a county town in Xigaze prefecture, Tibet autonomous region, local officials said.

On Monday, snow more than 50 cm deep blocked the way to the base camp on Qomolangma, known as Mount Everest in the West, stranding at least 86 tourists, including 13 from overseas, at the site 5,200 meters above sea level.

Tsetop, deputy head of the Dingri county government and leader of the rescue operation, said many of the tourists continued traveling to their next destinations when they reached Dingri.

The local government is helping vendors and hotel operators to move from the base camp as the weather becomes unpredictable and colder.

Han Jing, one of the tourists, said on his micro blog, "Although our journey has been delayed, we had an unusual taste of Qomolangma.

"Locals at the camp treated us very nicely. They greeted us wherever we go."

Beijing Youth Daily reported that tourist Liu Jianzhong was the first to call the local tourism bureau for help on Monday when he found many of those stranded had only brought enough food for one day. Liu feared the snow would turn to ice, worsening the situation.

The snow, triggered by Cyclone Phailin, started falling on Sunday.

Tourist Lu Hailin said on his micro blog that off-road vehicles were buried and yaks were trapped in the snow. He tried to walk for 10 meters but had to return to his hotel because the snow was too deep.

Beijing Youth Daily quoted tourist Zhong Yu as saying that four tents collapsed because of the weight of the snow, and power supplies were cut on Sunday night.

But the tourists had enough food and managed to help locals clear snow on the tents. Some of them even enjoyed their prolonged stay.

Han Jing said, "We can't go up or down the mountain ... there must be a surprise waiting for us since the weather has forced us to stay. I'm ready to build some snowmen."

Tsetop organized a team of 40 rescue workers, three loaders and a truck to clear the blocked road.

Many of the tourists spent Monday night in the Rongbuk Hotel and Rongbuk Monastery near the camp. Police provided them with hot water and butter tea.

On Tuesday morning, all tourists were evacuated from the camp in vehicles. Many of them arrived in Dingri by the afternoon.

The straight-line distance from the base camp to the summit of the world's highest peak is about 19 km.

The camp has hotels, teahouses, shops and a post office. Tourists usually arrive in the spring and autumn, and the camp normally shuts for the winter on Oct 20.