Two Ottawa-area women are safe in Nepal
Published Wednesday, October 15, 2014 2:45PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, October 16, 2014 6:44PM EDT
Two Ottawa-area women are safe after a deadly avalanche in Nepal killed dozens of trekkers, including four Canadians. Virginia Schwartz and Jane Van Criekingen were thought to be missing, until a Facebook post early this morning saying they are safe. Smiling broadly, clearly safe, the best friends, who have travelled the world together posted a photo of the two together in Manang, Nepal, along with a message to reassure their families.
‘Thank you to everyone,’ Virginia wrote, ‘for all the kind words and prayers. We are safe. We are trekking out of the avalanche danger zone and heading back down along the circuit,’
For twenty anxious hours, the families of those two Ottawa-area women feared the worst, after an avalanche barreled down on hundreds of trekkers in northern Nepal, killing 27 people, including four Canadians.
‘They were oblivious to what was going on,’ Mark Schwartz, Virginia’s sister, told CTV news, ‘They are fine and safe and started the trek downwards now that we told them what's going on.’
Those who survived appeared stunned and shaken as they staggered into the village of Manang.
Linor Kajan was among a group of trekkers from Israel who were catch up in the avalanche.
‘I was sure I was going to die,’ she says, ‘I lost my group and I couldn't see anything and I was stuck in snow to here.’
Seventy hikers are still unaccounted for, including Marc Voyer and Rose Maninang of Toronto.
Voyer's sister says the couple has not turned up on the list of those rescued, hoping perhaps they are nowhere near the danger zone.
‘We're at point where we thought we would have heard from him by now,’ Nadia Chychrun told CTV News, ‘ but that's the only thing that (we are) holding onto, hoping that he's ahead of it and doesn't realize there's an issue behind him.’
Three people from Quebec traveling with a Montreal tour company are also missing.
As for the Ottawa women, they are trying to find passage out but in the meantime, helping where they can.
‘They are fine and they've set up in the hospital,’ Mark Schwartz says, ‘and making sure the injured get out.’
The Canadian government offered its condolences today and said it is prepared to send help if needed. “On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my thoughts and prayers to those who have lost friends and family members as a result of yesterday’s avalanche in Nepal.’ The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular) said.
Friends and relatives in Canada concerned about Canadian citizens believed to have been affected by the avalanche should contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre via the telephone number or email address above, or call 1-800-387-3124 toll-free within Canada.