Dutch pair missing on Nepalese mountain trek after virus ban
Kathmandu - Two Dutch female trekkers and a Nepalese porter have been missing from Nepal's mountains since March 16, the day after the Himalayan nation banned treks over the coronavirus, according to the Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN).
TAAN President Khum Bahadur Subedi said that the trekkers, identified as Madeleine van der Perk and Olga Spronken, were heading along the Annapurna circuit trek route to Jomsom from Jagat in Lamjung district via the Thorong La pass.
The Thorong La pass is the highest point of the short Annapurna circuit trek with an elevation of 5,416 metres above sea level north of mount Annapurna in central Nepal.
Subedi said that the duo were seen with a porter guide, although they did not mention the guide while acquiring their entry permission.
"We have informed police and our members on the ground to carry out the search after receiving a request from a [representative] of the Netherlands consulate in Kathmandu," Subedi told dpa.
Officials at the Netherlands consulate in Kathmandu couldn't be reached for comment, while a constable at the tourist police office in Pokhara said they are yet to receive a formal missing complaint to begin a search.
Officials say the Dutch tourists, who started their trek on March 9, were last in touch via WhatsApp and Instagram on March 16.
Although Nepal shut down all its mountains for climbers and trekkers on March 15 due to fears of the spread of the potentially fatal Covid-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, some tourists who had acquired permission before the restrictions are still trekking on major trekking routes.
Annapurna circuit is home to Mount Annapurna, the 10th highest mountain in the world at 8,091 metres above sea level.dpa