Stranded tourists flown to safety from foothills of Mount Everest

By Associated Press Reporter

Scores of tourists on the foothills of Mount Everest have been flown to safety days after being stranded on the only airstrip serving the world’s highest mountain.

Dhurba Shrestha, an official at the Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla, said 174 foreign tourists and four Nepali nationals left the mountain by air on Saturday in 12 small planes and two helicopters.

The airport at Lukla, located at an altitude of 2,800 metres (9,184ft), is the only airport in the Mount Everest region.

Foreign embassies and local travel agents have been urging Nepal’s government to allow these rescue flights to the Everest region since the country imposed a lockdown last week.

Nepal’s government has halted all flights and ground transportation, shutting down offices and shuttering businesses to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Nepal has four confirmed cases, including one person who has recovered.