Trekking routes in Everest safe: Miyamoto
Trekking routes in the Everest region have been declared to be safe in a much relief to the tourism entrepreneurs of Nepal. Miyamoto International, a safety audit agency, declared the one of most famous routes safe after the April 25 earthquake. The same agency recently had declared another trekking route Annapurna Circuit in the north-western region. The quake had however caused massive damages to Lamtang route where many Nepali and foreign tourists had died due to avalanche in Himalaya caused by the quake. However, the government has advised trekkers in the Everest region to go with experienced guides if they wish to visit the area during the monsoon season as theire is chance of slope failures. The assessment report showed that there was minimal damage to a majority of lodges and trails in the region. The safety audit company handed over the rapid assessment report to Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa on Friday. With the assessment showing minor damages only, the trekking trails in the regions are likely to go into full-fledged operation after the end of the monsoon. The ministry said that it would conduct another post-monsoon assessment of the region after the rainy season is over to fully assure the safety of visitors.
“We won’t discourage trekkers from visiting the Everest region, but if they wish to go, they should be accompanied by a proper guide,” said Tulsi Prasad Gautam, director general of the Department of Tourism. The Everest and the Annapurna trekking routes attract more than 90 percent of the foreign trekkers in Nepal. The Everest region attracts 35,000 trekkers annually. According to the report, many of the villages in the Everest region like Lukla, Namche, Khumjung, Tengboche and all the villages above Dingboche on the way to Everest Base Camp do not appear to be at risk of landslides as a result of the earthquake. None of the major suspension bridges appears to be affected by new geotechnical hazards as a result of the earthquake. However, a few villages like Phakding and Jorsale have significant existing rock fall hazards, while Toktok, Bengkar and Shomore have been affected by very serious geotechnical hazards. The safety audit company had assessed a total of 15 villages with approximately 710 buildings, including accommodation and residential buildings, and nine main bridges along the trekking route. Among the buildings studied, earthquake damage of structural concern was seen in 120 buildings (17 percent), while 83 percent of the buildings can be given a green tag.
Most of the buildings that were damaged can be repaired. “Building owners have started reconstructing damaged buildings,” said Kit Miyamoto, CEO of Miyamoto International. The trekking trail from Lukla to Namche Bazaar is one of the most heavily damaged areas, the report said. In Zam Fute, seven lodges were heavily damaged. In Thulo Gumela and Zam Fute, approximately 50 percent of the buildings sustained heavy damage and have been red tagged. In Toktok, approximately 90-95 percent of the buildings were red tagged due to earthquake damage. The structures in Bengar will need to be given a red tag due to damage sustained as a result of rock fall. In Lukla, the gateway to the Everest region, 20 percent of the structures sustained damage. It is estimated that 50 percent of the buildings in Lukla serve as hotels. A large majority of the accommodation structures here are open for business. In Phakding, 20 percent of its 80 buildings have been damaged. However, many of these accommodation structures are being repaired. In Monjo, 30 percent of the structures have been damaged, and a majority of the hotels are open for business. Around 10 percent of the 150 buildings in Namche Bazaar have suffered damage, while Khumjung and Khunde, 30 percent of the structures have sustained smaller damages. There are 180 buildings in the area and many of them are hotels.