Kathmandu, March 27
A total of 305 German nationals, who were stranded in Nepal after the government imposed a lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, have been evacuated today by the German embassy.
Along with the German nationals, other European nationals that included Nepali spouses of EU citizens with a permanent residence permit in the EU were also evacuated.
A chartered flight of Qatar Airways landed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) at 9:30 this morning and took-off with the tourists at 11:30am.
According to Paula Werner, cultural attaché at the German Embassy in Kathmandu, the passengers have signed a form that they will contribute to the cost of the airline ticket.
“Contribution will be to the tune of an economy ticket after returning to Germany,” she said. A similar contract was signed by the other EU citizens as well, she added.
“We have estimated that around 200 Germans are still stranded in different regions of Nepal, mostly in the Himalayas,” she said, adding, “We are currently looking for ways to ensure their safe movement in close coordination with Nepali authorities. We will try to charter planes for Lukla and Pokhara, but for people in Manang and Langtang area we still need a solution.”
As per Werner, most of the German tourists had arrived in Nepal in the beginning of March when very few cases of the COV- ID-19 were confirmed in Germany. Most of the Germans were staying in hostels located at Thamel, Bouddha and Sanepa during the lockdown period.
She further expressed her gratitude towards the Nepali hotels in different areas for serving stranded tourists during this crisis.
“We will rely on them for the next four days until we get the people from Lukla and Pokhara,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Australian Embassy also has been arranging domestic flights to bring its nationals who have been stranded in different parts of the country to Kathmandu.
According to Shraddha Shrestha, brand manager of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), a total of 14 Australians were flown to Kathmandu from Lukla today. A Facebook page titled ‘Australians Stranded in Nepal’ has also been opened for those who are stuck in different places and want to get in contact with each other for support from the embassy.
Meanwhile, the embassy source has stated that the evacuation of Australians from Nepal is still uncertain though they are trying to arrange an aircraft.
Likewise, the British Embassy has called on all its nationals stranded in Nepal to contact the embassy for evacuation. As per the Department of Immigration, there are around 10,000 tourists stranded in Nepal due to the travel ban in the world.
Meanwhile, various hotels in coordination with NTB and the local governments are arranging free food and accommodation for the stranded tourists, informed NTB official Lila Baniya. He further said that a flight each from Germany and France have also been scheduled to arrive on Saturday for evacuation.
Meanwhile, 60 tourists from Jomsom have arrived in Kathmandu today via land route while 31 Swiss travellers have been airlifted from Pokhara to Kathmandu, he added. Likewise, six tourists from Solukhumbu are on the way to Kathmandu via land route.
As per NTB Brand Manager Shrestha, around 600 tourists have contacted NTB for rescue, of which 227 have been rescued till date. The number does not include tourists from Pokhara.
“Our website — strandedinnepal.com — has helped a lot to rescue more tourists as they are frequently coming in contact with us seeking our help,” she said. “They have even created their particular groups on the website to support nationals from their respective countries.”
Meanwhile, a group comprising 32 trekking guides and porters stranded in Lukla has also sent a letter seeking support to rescue them. The government has imposed a lockdown in the country starting from March 24 to fight against the coronavirus due to which a large number of tourists have been stranded in the country.
Hence, NTB and the concerned authorities have jointly taken the initiative to rescue the stranded tourists.
A version of this article appears in print on March 28, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.
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