Thirteen Spaniards remain missing in Nepal in the wake of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country on April 25.
The number dropped from 21 following a review of departure records provided by authorities to the Spanish embassy in India, said the Foreign Ministry in a release.
There were 567 Spanish nationals in Nepal when the quake hit and caused massive death and destruction. The latest official tally is over 7,000 dead and 14,000 wounded.
Hopes are running out that the seven mountain climbers will be found alive
On Monday a Spanish rescue team made up of 47 members of the Emergency Military Unit (UME) and seven civil guards arrived in Kathmandu with five trained dogs to help search for seven missing Spanish climbers.
The UME unit has brought enough emergency relief equipment along to provide additional support in Kathmandu valley.
On Sunday, five Civil Guard officers began flying over Langtang Valley, where the trekkers were reportedly last seen right before a major avalanche devastated the area in the wake of the quake.
Gustavo de Arístegui, Spain’s Ambassador to India, said the Civil Guard team had been “shaken” by the destruction they saw after flying over the valley for two hours.
Hopes are now running out that the seven mountain climbers will be found alive. Last week, families of some of the missing mountaineers complained that the Spanish government was not doing enough to find them and demanded a rescue party.
According to residents of Langtang Valley, “the entire mountain collapsed” during an avalanche triggered by the 7.8-magnitude quake.
Nepali police and local volunteers found the bodies of about 100 trekkers and villagers buried in the snow, Reuters reported. At least seven of the dead are foreigners but they have not been identified yet.
Langtang is located about 60 kilometers from Kathmandu, on a popular trekking route.
Ganga Sagar Pant, the head of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, said the avalanche had wiped out the entire village.
“All that is left is scattered belongings such as bags and coats; all the houses crashed down the mountain,” he said. “There is nothing left. I don’t think anyone could survive that.”
The Spanish ambassador to India – Spain has no diplomatic representation in Nepal – said that five Civil Guard officials will begin their search for the missing trekkers at Kyanjin Gompa, the highest point in the region at 3,800 meters, and descend toward Langtang Valley. The other civil guards and the UME team will cover the inverse route, starting from the valley bottom.
De Arístegui said authorities were able to track down most of the Spanish citizens in the country after Nepalese officials provided them with immigration records.
The United Nations estimates that more than eight million of the country’s 28 million inhabitants have been affected by the quake and its aftermath.