May 12, 2015 / 5:48 AM / 2 years ago

Nepal army rescues 117 people stranded in trekking villages after quake

A woman walks out from a collapsed house after the April 25 earthquake at Bungamati village in Lalitpur May 11, 2015.Navesh Chitrakar

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - The Nepali army has rescued 117 people from three remote mountain villages north of the capital Kathmandu, including two U.S. citizens who had been searching for a missing relative, a military official said on Tuesday.

The 115 Nepalis and two Americans were evacuated on Monday from Syanjen, Kenjing and Langtang Village, where hundreds of people were killed in a huge landslide and avalanche triggered by last month's earthquake.

All of those rescued were stranded in the three popular trekking villages in Rasuwa district, about 60 km (35 miles) north of Kathmandu, after the 7.8 earthquake struck on April 25, killing at least 8,046 people and injured more than 17,800.

A series of avalanches and bad weather in the area had slowed the military's efforts to reach those cut off.

"The entire Langtang Valley has turned into a rocky and snowy ruin due to avalanches," Uddhav Bhattarai, Rasuwa's district administrator, told Reuters.

On Sunday, the continuing avalanche risk led officials to suspend their search for some 200 bodies believed to be buried beneath the rock and snow in Langtang Village.

As of Monday, 128 bodies had been recovered there.

"Rescuers have been unable to go there to look for bodies since the weekend because avalanches continue to fall and make it dangerous," Bhattarai said.

The U.S. citizens rescued on Monday were with a Nepali guide, a military official said, and were brought to the district capital of Dhunche along with the Nepalis who were rescued.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Writing by Krista Mahr; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Paul Tait

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