2 Ottawa-area women safe in Nepal after avalanches
'They had no idea that the avalanche had occurred,' says brother of 1 woman
Two Ottawa-area women have turned up safe after they were believed to be missing in Nepal, where officials say four Canadians are among at least 12 people killed in an avalanche and a blizzard in Nepal's mountainous north.
Mark Schwartz said Wednesday his sister Virginia Schwartz and her friend, Jane Van Criekingen, were missing and unaccounted for after the avalanche and blizzard.
Then, early Thursday morning, Mark Schwartz discovered his sister had signed into Facebook.
"She had no idea, they had no idea that the avalanche had occurred," Mark Schwartz said in an interview Thursday. "They were in what I describe as a pocket of safety near Menang and they were oblivious to what was happening.
"We provided her with updates ... and she couldn't believe it. She had no idea, except for seeing helicopters going overhead," he said.
Women still have 3-4 days of hiking left
Virginia Schwartz and her friend still have about three to four days of hiking left to do.
"It's been a rough 24 hours and we're not finished yet. She has another three to four days before she figures she's down," Mark Schwartz said. "So we're ecstatic that we've heard from her and my family have actually been able to catch some sleep."
Thursday morning, Virginia Schwartz updated her Facebook page to say she and Criekingen were safe.
"Thank you to everyone for all the kind words and prayers, we are safe," Schwartz said. "We are trekking out of the avalanche danger zone and heading back down along the circuit. We are now in Manang on the lower side of the pass and hope to be in Pokhara in 3-4 days."
A Facebook group dedicated to connecting trekkers in Nepal since the avalanche had earlier posted a picture of the two women from Oct. 9 and said they were last heard from on Saturday.
A statement Wednesday from the Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal said the bodies of five people — four Canadians and one Indian trekker — have been recovered from the Phu area in Manang district.
Officials said the death toll is likely to rise as rescuers struggle through snow and rough terrain to help dozens who remain stranded.