Police sources in Nepal say that rescue teams had uncovered 100 bodies of mountain climbers who had been killed by a series of avalanches set off by the April 25 7.8-magnitude earthquake even as the United Nations warned that the coming monsoon season could threaten thousands of survivors.
The grisly discovery came as the government raised the death toll to 7,365 and more than 15,000 injured.
Government officials said that the bodies were buried under at least six feet of snow and were recovered some 60km north of the capital Kathmandu.
The area is known to be popular with European and North American climbers and hikers. The European Union announced on the weekend that it feared there were at least 1,000 of its citizens unaccounted for mainly around the Himalayas and Mt. Everest.
Meanwhile, Nepalese Home Ministry Spokesperson Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told reporters that her government believes it is unlikely to find any survivors and that search and rescue operations had largely ended.
She indicated that operations were now focused on retrieving bodies and that foreign rescue teams are no longer needed. Some 35 international rescue teams have already left Nepal, she said.
Relief organizations, which have provided food and shelter for tens of thousands of displaced people, will remain in the country.
On Monday, Indian authorities confirmed that many of their rescue teams had returned from Nepal. India provided the quickest and largest rescue and relief operation to assist Nepal.
The US says that its military aircraft had landed in Nepal and were helping deliver relief supplies and organize logistical support at Kathmandu Airport. US aircraft will also airlift stranded people in hard to reach areas outside the capital.
The UN says that about eight million people in Nepal, India and China have been affected by the earthquake.
On Monday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that the coming monsoon rain season, which lasts from June to September, is likely not only to hinder relief operations but also pose danger for people who have lost their homes and have nowhere to go.
People stranded in remote areas are particularly at high risk.
The BRICS POST with inputs from Agencies