Nepal has decided to extend the free permits for foreigners prevented from climbing Mount Everest by last year’s earthquakes.
More than 800 foreign climbers had paid up to $11,000 for permits for expeditions canceled after quakes in April and May 2015.
Climbers who missed out will be able to use the same permit for 2016 and 2017.
At least 19 people were killed on Everest in avalanches triggered by April’s quake.
Nearly 9,000 people died across the country in the two quakes.
“The government has decided to extend permits for two years in order to compensate those climbers who could not continue their expeditions due to the earthquake,” tourism department chief Gobinda Bahadur Karki was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
Nepal is eager to boost its flagging tourism industry ahead of the climbing season which starts later this month.
Hiking officials say foreign bookings have sharply declined.
Nepal’s infrastructure was badly hit by the quakes, while a protracted transport blockade along the border with India has further hit supplies of fuel and equipment.
Nepal has been hit by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in an area between the capital Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara, the US Geological Survey said.
The earthquake caused extensive damage to buildings and some injuries, eyewitnesses say.
Tremors were felt as far away as the Indian capital Delhi and other cities in northern India, which borders Nepal.
Several buildings, including temples are reported to have been reduced to rubble in Kathmandu.
Injured people have been brought to the main hospital. There has been no estimate yet on the number of deaths, but Reuters news agency reported that two people had died, one in Nepal, one in northern India.
Indian PM Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter: “We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home and in Nepal.”
Aftershocks could still be felt across the region sometime after the initial quake.
Kathmandu was all but destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 1934.
Everest climbing route in Nepal is to be changed amid fears of an increased avalanche risk.
Nepal will change the path in March after a deadly collapse in 2014 killed 16 Sherpa guides – the worst single loss of life in expedition history.
The current route up the mountain has been in use since the 1990s.
Mountaineers will now take a more central route after Base Camp, avoiding the left side of the Khumbu Icefall, where last year’s accident occurred.
The fatal avalanche last year triggered a boycott by Sherpa climbers who demanded better wages and conditions.
Their protest at Base Camp led to the cancellation of all expeditions to Everest.
The Nepali government is seeking to improve safety at the start of the 2015 spring climbing season.
“We think the risk of avalanche in the left part of the Khumbu Icefall is growing and we are moving the route to the centre where there is almost no such danger,” said Ang Dorji Sherpa, chairman of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, an organization authorized to set the route of Everest expeditions.
Ropes and ladders had already been imported from countries including the UK and will be fixed into position along the new route, he added.
The central route up the mountain immediately after Base Camp is not actually new. It was the path used by mountaineers more than two decades ago.
In the 1990s, the route was changed to run up what is known as the “west shoulder” because it was shorter and easier to climb, even for inexperienced mountaineers.
The downside was that the avalanche risk there was greater.
“The route through the centre part will be difficult and time consuming but it will be relatively free from the risk of avalanche, as the ice cliffs and hanging glaciers [along the west shoulder] are comparatively far away from it,” said Ang Dorji Sherpa.
One of the demands of Sherpas during their protest last year was for the Nepali government to allow the use of helicopters to drop heavy equipment at Camp One – the next stop for climbers after leaving Base Camp.
This would free Sherpas from carrying heavy loads and reduce the frequency of their trips through treacherous parts of the route.
Porters, many of them from the Sherpa community, pass through the Khumbu Icefall 30-40 times during the climbing season, carrying heavy loads.
Foreign operators have sided with the Sherpas on this issue, but Nepali expedition operators disagree.
“Nepal’s law does not allow even rescue helicopters above base camp mainly because of the environmental fragility of the mountains and we agree with that provision,” Tika Gurung, an executive member of the Expedition Operators’ Association of Nepal.
The government has not agreed to any change on the use of helicopters, though it may hope that shifting the route will assuage some of the Sherpas’ anger.
Both foreign and Nepali expedition operators have welcomed the decision to move the climbing path.
Figures show nearly 40 climbers, most of them support staff of expedition teams, have died in the Khumbu Icefall.
Some 250 people in total have died trying to climb Mount Everest since it was first scaled in 1953.
Leonardo DiCaprio has donated $3 million to help save tigers in Nepal.
Leonardo DiCaprio, 39, made the donation to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) via his charitable foundation.
The funds will be used to significantly increase the number of tigers in Nepal by 2022 – the next year of the tiger.
In a statement, Leonardo DiCaprio said he’s “hopeful” the money will help “exceed the goal” of doubling Nepal’s tiger population.
Nepal’s tigers are classified as endangered and – as with the general tiger population – are under threat from “habitat destruction and escalating illegal poaching”.
The star’s donation will help enforce anti-poaching patrols and protect and restore areas for the tigers to breed in Nepal.
Leonardo DiCaprio has donated $3 million to help save tigers in Nepal
So far, the foundation has helped increase the tiger population in Nepal’s Terai Bardia National Park from 18 to 50.
“His foundation is all about delivering real results for conservation on the ground and empowering local communities; nowhere is that more evident than in Nepal,” said Carter Roberts, president of the WWF.
The DiCaprio Foundation aims to protect “Earth’s last wild places and foster a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world”.
Earlier this year, Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation raised $38.8 million through donations and an art auction at Christie’s in New York.
The tiger grant is the first from the proceeds of the auction, according to the WWF.
Leonardo DiCaprio will next be seen on the big screen playing the lead in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, due to be released on January 17.
Mohammed Salmodin, a Nepali farmer who was bitten by a cobra in his rice paddy field, has killed the snake by repeatedly biting it in return.
“A snake charmer told me that if a snake bites you, bite it until it is dead and nothing will happen to you,” said Mohammed Salmodin.
He has now been discharged from hospital where he was being treated for the snake bite.
Officials say he will not be charged because the reptile was not endangered.
“When I realized that a snake had bit me, I went home to get a torch and saw that it was a cobra. So I bit it to death,” he said.
Mohammed Salmodin, a Nepali farmer who was bitten by a cobra in his rice paddy field, has killed the snake by repeatedly biting it in return
After he bit the snake to death, Mohammed Salmodin said that he went about his daily business as if nothing had happened. He says he finally agreed to go to hospital after pressure from family, neighbours and police.
The incident took place on Tuesday in a village 200 km (125 miles) south-east of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
The snake he killed is reported to have been the common cobra. Nepal has a wide variety of snakes, many of which are venomous – such as the cobra.
Estimates suggest that there are 20,000 cases of snake bite in Nepal a year, most of them in the Terai southern plains, causing about 1,000 deaths, the AFP news agency reports.
Advice for victims of snake bite can vary, partly because different snakes have different types of venom.
How to react in case of snake bite:
• Remain calm
• Try to remember the snake’s shape, size and colour
• Keep the bitten part of your body as still as possible to prevent the venom spreading
• Remove any jewellery or watches from the bitten limb as it may swell
• Do not attempt to remove any clothing, such as trousers
• Seek immediate medical attention
Widely known treatments, such as the application of a tourniquet or trying to suck out the venom, are not recommended.
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