TRAGEDY IN NEPAL

Chaos delaying repatriation of Spanish trekker found dead after Nepal quake

Body of 37-year-old Catalan woman expected to arrive in Spain on Wednesday

Roser Palau, in a photograph taken from her Facebook page.
Roser Palau, in a photograph taken from her Facebook page.

The chaotic situation at Nepal’s international airport is delaying the repatriation of the first known Spanish victim of the April 25 earthquake.

The body of a 37-year-old Catalan woman, who died while hiking in Nepal when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit, was expected to arrive in Spain on Wednesday after Spanish rescue teams tried to sort out logistic difficulties in the disaster-stricken country.

We haven’t lost hope in finding the other six  alive, but we have to search everywhere”

Roser Palau was identified on Tuesday as one of the victims who was killed in Langtang Valley, where a massive avalanche triggered by the quake flattened most of the region.

According to her father, Palau began a solo excursion at 7.30am on the day the quake hit.

“I will arrive in Nepal in early April,” Palau had written on her Facebook page in February.

Her father said that she had wanted to venture out alone that day and that he had not heard from her since.

Eight Spaniards who were in Nepal at the time of the quake remain unaccounted for, according to the Spanish Foreign Ministry. Along with Palau, six others were reportedly in Langtang when it struck; they have been identified as Mixel Pizarro, from Aragón, and his partner Isabel Ortiz, who is from Cantabria, along with Sabino Fernández, Jesús Monteirín, Egidio García and Ángel Hernández Muñiz, who are all from Asturias.

A police forensic team was scheduled to leave for Nepal on Wednesday to help identify the bodies in Langtang, Foreign Minister José García-Margallo told state broadcaster Radio Nacional. They will join the Military Emergency Unit (UME) and Civil Guards who traveled to the quake-stricken country over the weekend to help search for the missing Spaniards.

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“I think we have done everything possible,” García-Margallo said in response to family members who have claimed that the government has not been doing enough to find their relatives.

“We haven’t lost hope of finding them alive, but we have to search everywhere and, more importantly, bring them home to their loved ones as quickly as possible,” he said.

The death toll from the earthquake stands at more than 7,650, with over 16,300 injured.

On Tuesday, the Spanish UME team had trouble leaving a military base in Kathmandu to reach Langtang because of bureaucracy and logistical problems.

Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has come under fire for the disorganization of the rescue effort. “We are doing all we can with the little resources we have,” he said on Tuesday.