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Body believed to be of missing Korean trekker found in Annapurna

(Courtesy of Mountain Korea-Yonhap)
(Courtesy of Mountain Korea-Yonhap)

NEW DELHI/SEOUL/HONGSEONG -- A body believed to be of a member of a South Korean trekking group that went missing in a deadly avalanche in Annapurna, Nepal, in January has been discovered by Nepalese authorities, officials said Monday.

According to diplomatic sources and trekkers in Nepal, local residents and Nepalese military personnel who have been searching the accident scene have found the body in melting snow.

The local search workers confirmed that the body belongs to a South Korean man and are presuming he is one of the three members of the South Korean trekking team who are still missing.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs later identified the body to be of a South Korean man, although it was not immediately sure if it belongs to one of the missing teachers.

"He was confirmed to be a South Korean national through the passport found with the body," a ministry official said.

"The body will be moved to Kathmandu on a military helicopter...and the ministry plans to provide consular support for efforts to find the rest of those who are still missing," the official said.

Four South Korean school teachers and three Nepalese trekking guides went missing in January when an avalanche hit the Annapurna region in Nepal.

After the bodies of two of the Nepalese guides were found first, local authorities discovered the bodies of two of the South Korean teachers -- a man and a woman -- over the weekend.

Currently, two South Korean teachers and one Nepalese guide remain unaccounted for in the famous trekking area.

South Korean rescuers and Nepalese authorities carried out an extensive search project after the accident in mid-January. In late January, however, the search workers walked out of the accident scene due to prohibitively worsening weather conditions.

The melting of snow in the area in recent weeks is clearing the trekking course, leading to the recent discoveries.

Local authorities are also planning to move the two recently identified bodies to a hospital in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, although it remains unclear whether the bodies could be safely brought home due to the ongoing lockdown in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)

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