175 Nepalis, 56 foreigners still unaccounted for

KATHMANDU: Inspector General of Police Upendra Kant Aryal today said search and rescue operation is still on for the 175 Nepalis and 56 foreigners who went missing and are unaccounted for after the April 25 earthquake.

“The number of people missing following the quake stands at 231 as of today. Of them, 175 are Nepalis and 56 are foreigners, mostly tourists,” IG Aryal told a meeting of the Social Justice and Human Rights Committee of the Legislature-Parliament. Most of the missing Nepalis were last seen and contacted in Sindhupalchowk, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Nuwakot and the Kathmandu Valley.

“Search and rescue operation is still in progress to find their whereabouts. Nepal Police has set up a Missing Person Desk in the central level to collect data for searching the Nepali and foreign nationals missing after the quake,” he informed.

Name, age, sex, physical description and distinguishing feature of some of the missing Nepali citizens, and the clothes and jewellery they were wearing at the time of disaster have also been provided in the ‘List of Missing Persons’ published on the official website of Nepal Police for the information that could lead to the whereabouts of the missing persons, including 35 females.

In the case of missing foreigners, 21 of them are females, IGP Aryal said.

Nepal Police is working in tandem with the Interpol Headquarters, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Nepal-based foreign diplomatic missions and all police units across the country to collect the details of the missing persons, he added.

DSP Basundhara Khadka of Interpol Office, Nepal told The Himalayan Times that chances of finding missing foreigners alive were could not be ruled out. “The number of missing foreigners after the quake has dropped to 56 as of today from 125 on April 25. We are taking all possible measures, including administrative steps and public appeals, to collect information on the persons reported missing. For this, we are in constant touch with the Department of Immigration, hospitals, hotels and international borders as well,” she said.

The foreigners reported missing after the quake are from 17 countries, including the USA, Belgium, Canada, China, Lebanon and Cambodia, and were last seen in Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, Manaslu region, Everest Base Camp and Kathmandu.

“The details about the missing persons provided by their respective kin through the Interpol Headquarters have been deemed authentic after the first and last names provided to us varied from one source to another and made it more difficult for us to verify their identities and nationalities,” she informed.

Some of the families which lodge ‘missing complaint’ with the police do not communicate to the law enforcement agency after the missing persons come in contact or found, according to police.

“Therefore, all the missing persons might not have been really unaccounted for,” DSP Khadka suggested.

As the foreigners were tourists visiting Nepal, trekking agencies which are responsible for the overall planning of their travel and tour have not provided police with full details of their clients, IGP Aryal told the House panel.