Nepal avalanches kill at least 20 people, leave more than 100 missing on and around popular Annapurna Circuit

Nepal avalanches kill at least 20 people, leave more than 100 missing on and around popular Annapurna Circuit

Nepal avalanches kill at least 20 people, leave more than 100 missing on and around popular Annapurna Circuit

Updated 16 October 2014, 14:30 AEDT

Unseasonal blizzards and avalanches in the Himalayan region of central Nepal have killed at least 20 people, including foreign hikers and a group of yak herders, officials say.

Unseasonal snowstorms and avalanches in Nepal's Himalayas have killed at least 20 people and left over 100 missing.

Rescue officials said the death toll could rise as dozens of other foreigners and locals who had been trekking were out of contact due to poor communication links and could have been caught in blizzards.

The severe weather was triggered by the tail end of Cyclone Hudhud, which made landfall in India on Sunday.

The blizzards hit a large group of trekkers and their guides on the Annapurna Circuit in central Nepal, killing a Nepalese citizen, two Polish nationals and an Israeli hiker.

Authorities are still trying to make contact with at least 100 other trekkers believed to be caught in snowstorms.

Meanwhile, concerned friends and relatives took to social media as they searched for information on those believed to be in the area.

Police said eight Nepalis died in nearby Mustang, a remote area bordering Tibet about 150 kilometres northwest of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

Mustang governor Baburam Bhandari said another 14 people were rescued after the weather cleared.

"We have rescued five German, five Polish and four Israeli trekkers who were trapped in the snowfall early on Wednesday," Mr Bhandari said.

"The phone network is not very good so we have not been able to get in touch with the missing, but we hope to find them later today."

In the district of Manang, to the south and east of Annapurna, four Canadian hikers and an Indian national were killed in an avalanche.

"The pilot of a rescue helicopter spotted the bodies in snow," the district's most senior bureaucrat Devendra Lamichhane, said.

"But it is not possible to retrieve their bodies because it is heavily snowing in the area now."

Three yak herders were also killed after being swept away by a separate avalanche in Manang.

Two Slovakian climbers and their three Nepalese guides were missing after an avalanche near base camp at Dhaulagiri, the world's eighth highest peak.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said officials at the Australian embassy in Kathmandu were in contact with Nepalese authorities, who have advised that there were no reports of any Australians affected.

Thousands of trekkers visit Nepal at this time of year when weather conditions are usually favourable for hiking trips.

The Annapurna Circuit trail goes over the Thorong La pass ,which is more than 5,400 metres above sea level and is often closed by snow.

Nepal's climbing and trekking industry is still recovering from the aftershocks of an ice avalanche that struck the lower reaches of Mount Everest in April, killing 16 Sherpa guides in the worst disaster in the history of the world's highest peak.

ABC/wires