French police search for missing Nepali skier

PARIS: French police and colleagues of a skier from the Nepali national team were increasingly concerned for his welfare today, nearly a week after the teenager went missing from a training camp in the Alps.

Uttam Rayamajhi, 17, quit the team’s training base at Les Arcs, southeast France, last Monday, upset over a funding row that threatened the funding of the country’s ski team. Rayamajhi speaks neither French nor English, had no money, no mobile phone and no experience of big cities, said Richard Morley, a former team coach who has been overseeing the squad in the Alps.

“Either he is still lost in the mountains or, more probably, on the streets of a big city in France — likely Paris — living rough, wandering around and probably having to steal food,” Morley said by telephone. “He comes from the mountains of Nepal so he’s not a street-savvy city boy. He’s easy prey. That’s why I’m so worried about him,” added Morley.

Dominique Hoffmann, an officer with the paramilitary gendarmerie police at Albertville, said Rayamaghi’s team-members had explained how depressed he was over the funding problems. “But anything is possible: an argument or an encounter,” he added. Investigators had ruled nothing out, Hoffmann said.