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COVID-19: Nepal rescues foreign tourists amid lockdown

Over 100 tourists were stranded in mountain regions following coronavirus lockdown

Deepak Adhikari   | 27.03.2020
COVID-19: Nepal rescues foreign tourists amid lockdown File Photo

KATHMANDU, Nepal

Nepal has rescued more than 100 tourists stranded in various mountain regions across the country amid lockdown imposed by the country’s authorities to stem the spread of the coronavirus, an official said Friday. 

As many as 46 tourists were airlifted from Jomsom, a mountain region near Nepal's border with China, said Smita KC, an officer at Nepal Tourism Board.

Fourteen tourists, including six French nationals, have been rescued from Lukla, the gateway to Everest, the world's highest peak, she said.

The officer, however, added 150 foreign tourists were still awaiting rescue in Lukla, which lies at an altitude of 2,800 meters (9,186 feet).

"We also rescued 38 French tourists from Pokhara [a resort town, west of Kathmandu]," she told Anadolu Agency.

She said French and German embassies were coordinating with the authorities to rescue their citizens, who are likely to return to their countries on special chartered flights, as Nepal has halted international flights due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ten foreign tourists, whose nationalities were not clear, were rescued from trekking routes in Manaslu area in north-central Nepal, the official said.

"Eight trekkers who were returning from an expedition to Kanchenjunga [world's third highest peak] are also awaiting rescue operations," she said.

Nepal on Tuesday went under a seven-day lockdown, restricting movements to only essential services.

The country has so far confirmed three cases of the coronavirus.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 176 countries and territories, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The data shows more than 533,400 cases have been reported worldwide since last December, with the death toll above 24,100 and over 122,700 recoveries.

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