KATHMANDU, August 7
An internationally acclaimed engineering firm, Miyamoto International, has confirmed that there was ‘minimal damage’ to a majority of accommodation facilities and trails by the April 25 earthquake followed by the powerful aftershocks in the Everest region of Nepal’s northeast.
Handing over the report to Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripasur Sherpa after the rapid safetyassessment of the 15 villages of the Khumbu region, the US-based structural engineering firm, Miyamoto, has said that 83 per cent of the total 710 accommodation facilities — lodges and hotels — are safe and ready for occupancy.
During the structural and geotechnical assessment that was conducted from June 27 to July 2, Miyamoto checked the safety of villages, accommodation facilities, trails and suspension bridges of the region.
“None of the bridges sustained earthquake-related damages as we have checked nine major bridges,” said the Miyamoto report. However, five different subsections of the Everest trail needs to be rerouted and repaired.
Recommendations in the report include rerouting a section of the Everest trail, as well as relocating buildings in the villages of Tok Tok and Benkar to the opposite side of the river in order to reduce risks in the region to tourists and locals. The report also recommends a follow up engineering assessment after the monsoon.
“The Department of Tourism (DoT) and trekking agencies here will conduct the post-monsoon detailed safety assessment of the region,” said Tulasi Prasad Gautam, director general at the DoT. “The aim of the report was to develop an initial understanding of the extent of the damage from the earthquakes so that we could assess the overall safety of the Everest region’s trekking routes before the season starts in September.”
Despite some challenges identified in the report, tourism industry leaders and government officials have welcomed the information in this assessment, which provides a baseline to improve infrastructure in the region.
• Many villages on the Everest trail do not appear to have been affected by the earthquake
• Damage in the lower valley (below Namche) is significantly greater than in the upper valley
• Study recommends rerouting a stretch of the trail around villages of Tok Tok and Benkar
• Suggests closing the low trail between the villages of Namche and Khumjung, and using the higher level trail instead
A version of this article appears in print on August 08, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.