Eight bodies recovered, St-Jerome cardiologist missing, after avalanche in Nepal
Published Sunday, September 23, 2012 1:05PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 24, 2012 7:39PM EDT
MONTREAL—A Quebecer was among a group of people who have disappeared after an avalanche in Nepal swept through an encampment of climbers.
Rescuers searching for climbers missing since an avalanche on Nepal's Mount Manaslu had recovered eight bodies by midday Monday.
Local police Chief Basanta Bahadur Kuwar told The Associated Press that rescuers were still trying to retrieve the ninth body stranded some 1,100 metres from the summit of the world's eighth-tallest mountain.
The search, however, was suspended Monday because of inclement weather.
The victims recovered so far are: Catalan activist Marti Gasull, 43, of Spain; Chamonix, France-based mountain guide Fabrice Priez; Chamonix resident Catherine Marie Andree Ricard; Lyon, France native Ludovic Paul Nicholas Challeat; Philippe Lucien Bos of France; Christian Mittermeyer of Germany; Alberto Magliano of Italy and Dawa Dorji of Nepal.
Four helicopters were searching by air, he said, while climbers and guides were searching the slopes on foot.
At least six other climbers are still believed to be missing.
Dominique Ouimet, a cardiologist at the St-Jerome regional hospital, was participating in an expedition to raise money for his hospital when he was swept away.
Nepalese mountain guides said the chance of finding Ouimet alive is almost nil.
The doctor's sister, Isabelle Ouimet, confirmed his disappearance on the Facebook page of Expes.
In Ottawa, Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Chrystiane Roy said officials had been in contact with authorities in Nepal.
"We are following the developments closely and stand ready to provide consular assistance should there be a need," Roy said Sunday. "Our thoughts are with the victims (and their families) of this avalanche."
Ouimet was using the Himalayan expedition to raise money for the St-Jerome Regional Hospital north of Montreal and last week did several interviews with the Quebec media.
Police official Basanta Kuwar said the bodies of a Nepalese guide and a German man were recovered Sunday and that rescue pilots had spotted seven other bodies on the slopes of Mount Manaslu in northern Nepal, the eighth-highest mountain in the world.
The Telegraph said that in addition to the Canadian, the missing included five French nationals and an Italian.
Kuwar told The Canadian Press the helicopter search for the missing climbers resumed early Monday.
Ten members of the expedition have survived, however according to police spokesman Basanta Bahadur Kuwar, many of them suffered injuries and had to be transported to hospital by helicopter.
According to a pilot flying medevac flights, Pasang—he only uses one name—three French alpinists and two Germans needed to be flown to hospital in the capital of Katmandu. Helicopters are also flying out the bodies of the dead. One German and a Sherpa guide were found dead in the avalanche’s debris field.
Isabelle Ouimet expressed disappointment and frustration late Sunday about the lack of information she was getting about the situation in Nepal.
"I'd like it if someone in the organization would take the trouble to provide us with news," she wrote on her own Facebook page.
"Nobody has contacted the family of Dominique Ouimet. I've done phone interviews on the radio and television in Canada. I have more tomorrow. I'll have to be honest and tell them the truth: we don't know who's in charge of the search, how the search is being done, what steps have been taken so far. After the shock, anger is rising. Time is of the essence."
The avalanche hit the camp situated nearly 7,000 metres up the mountain, only 1,156 metres shy of the top.
—with files from The Canadian Press.