British trekker missing in Nepal but South African saved (Lead)

January 27th, 2009 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 27 (IANS) While a British trekker, last seen at the foothills of the Himalayan ranges in northern Nepal in December, is still missing in Nepal, a South African was saved after he collapsed near the India-Nepal border, Nepal’s tourism officials said.Julian Alexander Wynne, a 33-year-old from Hampshire, who was travelling in Nepal with his friend Lee Aaron Jeffries, has been missing since last month when the pair went trekking in the Everest region from mountainous Jiri district.

Though the two went up to Gokyo, a valley in north Nepal famed for the Gokyo Ri peak, on Dec 22, they decided to follow separate routes with Wynne reportedly taking the trail to the base camp of Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world. He had earlier told his family that he would be “off the radar” for three weeks.

However, his family began to get worried after three weeks had passed without any news from him and they learnt that Jeffries had returned alone.

Wynne had originally planned to travel through India and Nepal for nine months.

“Guides and porters have been looking for Wynne without coming across him,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, chairman of Asian Trekking, told IANS.

“In winter, the Cho Las pass, where he was seen last, becomes treacherous and slippery due to ice-formation. If he is not anywhere else, the possibility of an accident can’t be ruled out.”

Shaun Swilling, a South African tourist who was crossing into India from Nepal’s border town of Bhairahawa this month and collapsed due to diabetes, was taken by Nepal police to hospital and treated successfully.

Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Tuesday said it had partially paid his medical and other expenses.

Officials coordinated with the South African embassy in Sri Lanka to trace Swilling’s friend, who was in India’s Rishikesh town, and facilitated the tourist’s return home.

“Before he left Nepal, Swilling said, ‘Nepali hospitality saved my life’,” NTB said in a press statement.

The press statement comes after the Nepal government was criticised for failing to make any official announcement about Wynne’s disappearance or to launch a search and rescue mission.

In March 2004, another Briton went missing in the Everest area.

Gareth Koch, a 24-year-old from Oxford, went missing around Namche Bazar. He has not been found yet.

A year earlier, Irish citizen Alex Ratnasothy was robbed on the way to Namche Bazar. His parents, who came to Nepal to search for him, reportedly found the 24-year-old had been robbed of his money, bag, guitar and even shoes in a village called Khari Khola.

Ratnasothy’s whereabouts still remain a mystery along with French tourist Celine Henri, who vanished from a national park on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley in 2005.

Wynne’s disappearance comes as an embarrassment for the new Nepal government that this month announced grandiose plans to draw one million tourists in 2011.

Though reeling under massive power outages, deteriorating security situation and regular closures, the government has detailed its plans to boost tourism two years later.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |