Nepal | May 29, 2020

Miyamoto urges detailed assessment of Khumbu region

Pushpa Raj Acharya
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The internationally acclaimed Japanese structural engineering firm, Miyamoto International, has recommended a detailed safety assessment of Khumbu region, where world’s highest peak Mount Everest is located.

It has said that some villages like Phakding and Jorsale face significant hazards due to falling rocks, while Toktok, Bengkar and Shomore have been affected by very serious geotechnical hazards.

After conducting a five-day rapid structural and geotechnical earthquake damage reconnaissance of the Everest region’s main trekking routes following the devastating earthquake of April 25, Miyamoto has recommended the Department of Tourism (DoT) to conduct a detailed safety assessment of the seismological damages.

DoT had invited Miyamoto to conduct a safety audit of the two popular trekking and mountaineering routes — Annapurna and Khumbu regions. As per Miyamoto, the damage in the lower valley — below Namche — is significantly greater than in the upper valley.

Post-monsoon study of the area will give clearer picture

“The recent instances of rock fall on low trail from Namche to Khumjung can be avoided by using the higher level trail between the two villages,” as per the preliminary report prepared by Miyamoto and obtained by The Himalayan Times.

It has also said that as a landslide had occurred about 600 metres above the confluence of Dudh Koshi and Bhote Koshi rivers, which lies in front of the Namche Bazar — the largest village on the Everest Base Camp trekking route — it might pose a risk for Namche Bazar as well.

Miyamoto, in its report, has said that they have recommended a detailed assessment of the popular trekking and mountaineering routes to manage the risks associated with the hazards. The detailed assessment should include occupancy of specific areas of trails and villages, and combining these with hazards to assess the risk, among others.

During its rapid assessment from June 27 to July 2, Miyamoto checked safety of villages, accommodations, trails and suspension bridges of the region.

After the rapid assessment, Miyamoto has suggested relocating the trail and houses of Toktok to the opposite side of the Dudh Koshi river to avoid the possible debris flow in the current route, using the existing bridges at Phakding and the northern end of Bengkar and keeping the trail on the true left of the river throughout this stretch, together with relocating the people living in this area.

Likewise, relocation of Bengkar village has also been recommended as the village has an unacceptably high rock fall hazard and that it is not suitably safe for continued occupation. Further, more detailed, geotechnical assessment should be completed to define those areas of Bengkar that may be safe for continued occupation, as per the report.

In the section of Namche to Khumjung it has urged DoT to close the low trail and consult with the owners of the two guest houses near Khumjung that would then be bypassed. However, possibility of scaling works to remove the loose rocks from the recent rock fall source has also been identified.

The report has said that there is no new rock fall from the slopes above Shomore. However, given the very large boulders among the houses, it is clear that the area has been affected by life-threatening rock fall in the past, and it is likely to be affected again in case of strong aftershocks or heavy rain. Hence, it has recommended the government to suggest tourists not to spend more time at Shomore.

The post-monsoon detailed safety assessment will give clearer picture of the Khumbu region, Miyamoto has said.

The government has closed the Khumbu region for trekking following the earthquake.

A version of this article appears in print on July 25, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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