Families of Everest avalanche victims to get Rs 500k each

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Sep 4, 2014-The Cabinet on Thursday okayed the Tourism Ministry’s proposal to provide compensation of Rs 500,000 each to the families of the 16 Nepali guides who lost their lives in an avalanche on Everest last spring.

On April 18, the single deadliest avalanche in Nepal’s mountaineering history killed 16 guides in an area known as “popcorn field” which lies just above Everest base camp at a height of 5,800 metres. The tragedy led to the cancellation of all the expeditions planned for the spring season except one by a Chinese national.

A search for the three unrecovered bodies among the 16 was called off due to the difficulty and risk involved in the task.

“We have decided to provide the amount to the families of the victims,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesperson of the ministry.

Following the disaster, the government had promptly announced a payment of Rs 40,000 to the victims’ families to cover funeral costs. However, high-altitude guides and workers were angered by the government’s paltry handout offer which led them to intensify their protest movement.

On April 22, mountain workers announced they would not work on Everest as a mark of respect for the victims. The government then decided to address the 13-point demand submitted by the high-altitude mountaineering support workers which included raising the insurance.

On August 10, the government raised the insurance coverage for mountaineering guides and Everest Base Camp workers to $ 15,000 from $ 10,000 effective from September 1. The government also raised the life and medical insurance coverage for high-altitude mountain guides and workers.

As per the government’s revised policy, the life insurance coverage for sardars (team leader), high altitude guides and workers has been raised to Rs 1.5 million from Rs 1 million and the medical insurance coverage has been hiked to Rs 400,000 per person from Rs 300,000.

Earlier, the government had decided to allocate 5 percent of the royalty collected from mountaineering activities to set up a mountaineers’ relief fund. The amount will be put together from the 30 percent royalty which is currently being allocated to respective local communities.

Published: 05-09-2014 09:50

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