Kathmandu, June 12
The Department of Tourism (DoT) has claimed that high altitude sickness and other health reasons caused deaths on Mt Everest (8,848 m) this spring season, not congestion.
The DoT’s statement has come at a time when it is facing immense criticism for issuing too many permits to scale Mt Everest while disregarding the safety of the climbers.
“Our attention has been drawn to the wrong information about deaths on Everest conveyed by national and international media,” said Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general of DoT, adding ‘traffic jam’ did not cause deaths on Mt Everest.
According to Ghimire, the post-mortem reports of the deceased climbers have shown that they died due to high altitude sickness, weakness or adverse weather conditions.
In a statement today, the DoT has stated that it had issued 366 expedition permits in 2017 and 346 expedition permits for Mt Everest in 2018 — not a huge difference compared to 381 permits issued this year for the highest peak.
“Hence, it untrue that congestion killed climbers on Mt Everest and we urge everyone not to be swayed by false information,” reads the statement.
Ghimire also expressed his dissatisfaction at the dissemination of such ‘wrong’ information in the international media.
“Such false news tarnishes our image and affects our mountaineering sector. Therefore, everyone should think twice before passing such misleading messages in international platform,” he added.
This year the DoT had issued expedition permits to a total of 868 climbers for 30 different peaks. Of the total, 381 members from 48 countries had received expedition permits to scale Mount Everest and among them 14 members were from Nepal. As per the DoT, of the total number of climbers who received expedition permits, only 281 climbers along with 378 high-altitude workers successfully scaled Mt Everest this spring.
Besides, a meeting held on June 7 by the Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation has formed a five-member study and recommendation committee to look into mountaineering issues.
“We are committed to implement the recommendations made by the committee, as mountaineering is a very sensitive sector,” Ghimire said.
A version of this article appears in print on June 13, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.