by Staff Writers
Kathmandu (AFP) Aug 7, 2015
The vast majority of guesthouses and trails on the popular Mount Everest trekking route emerged unscathed from Nepal's devastating earthquake, said an assessment report released Friday.
Tourism-dependent Nepal had called in international experts to examine trekking routes in the Everest and Annapurna region following April's disaster to certify that they were safe for hikers.
A team of structural and geotechnical engineers led by US-based firm Miyamoto International surveyed the Everest trail on foot and on a helicopter to check for quake-triggered destruction and hazards.
"About 83 percent of accommodations are undamaged on the main trekking route and others are repairable," said the firm's president Kit Miyamoto.
Miyamoto identified five damaged areas along the route with rockfall and landslide hazards and suggested diverting the trails to safer alternatives.
"A post-monsoon assessment has to be done in the region," Miyamoto said, adding that the short window of time ahead of the monsoon made it difficult for a comprehensive study.
Tulsi Gautam, chief of Nepal's tourism department, said that the government is committed to follow up on the recommendations.
"We have already allocated budget for this purpose and will begin work as soon as the monsoon ends," Gautam said.
Miyamoto International had also studied the Annapurna route and, in a report released last month, said that the route was largely unaffected, with only six of 250 guesthouses assessed showing repairable damage.
Following the quake, international trekking operators expressed concerns about safety, while insurance companies have been reluctant to cover trekkers visiting Nepal.
"This report will help assure our visitors of safety," said Ram Sapkota of a trekking company, Mountain Delights.
"But after monsoon the government as well as private tour operators need to reexamine the dangers pointed in the report and make sure that the route is not risky," Sapkota added.
The 7.8-magnitude quake that struck on April 25 killed more than 8,800 people across the Himalayan nation and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 18 people including foreign climbers.
It also wreaked a trail of death and destruction in Langtang, another popular trekking trail.
Nepal's snow-capped peaks make it a trekker's destination, with around 150,000 of them visiting the Annapurna circuit and Everest region every year.
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