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8 Indian tourists die due to possible gas leak in Nepal resort

By Shirish B Pradhan
Last updated on: January 22, 2020 00:55 IST
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Tragedy struck a group of 15 tourists from Kerala in Nepal when eight of them, including four children, died after they fell unconscious probably due to a gas leak from a heater in their room at a mountainous resort, amidst cold wave in the Himalayan region.

The Indian tourists were airlifted to HAMS hospital in Kathmandu where they were pronounced dead on arrival, Superintendent of Police Sushil Singh Rathaur said.

Makwanpur police said the victims might have fallen unconscious due to asphyxiation.

"All eight were airlifted and brought to hospital in Kathmandu. A doctor from the Indian mission was also immediately sent to the concerned hospital to check on welfare of patients and to provide necessary assistance," a source at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu told PTI.

"We have now been informed that all eight patients did not survive," the source added.

The victims were identified as Praveen Krishnan Nair, Saranya Sasi, Sreebhadra Praveen, Aarcha Praveen, Abhinav Saranya Nair, Ranjith Kumar Adatholath Punathil, Indu Lakshmi Peethambaran Ragalatha and Vyshnav Ranjith.

The deceased -- two couples and four children -- were part of a group of 15 people travelling from Kerala to Pokhara, a popular mountainous tourist destination.

They were on their way back home and stayed at Everest Panorama Resort in Daman in Makawanpur district on Monday night.

According to the manager at the resort, the guests stayed in a room and turned on a gas heater to keep themselves warm.

Although they had booked a total of four rooms, eight of them stayed in a room and remaining others in another room, the manager said, adding that all the windows and the door of the room were bolted from inside.

"They (the guests) came to the restaurant after freshening up in their rooms and drank the liquor they had brought with them. They ordered snacks from the resort restaurant," the resort manager, Shiva KC, was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.

After dinner at 10:30 pm, the guests of two cottages went to their rooms, while the others stayed back at the restaurant.

"In spite of our objection, they were constantly requesting to take the heater they were using in the restaurant to their rooms. They took it at around 2 am from the restaurant," the manager said.

Nair and Ranjit, both IT professionals, were engineering college classmates and the tour was arranged after a get-together with old friends in Delhi, a family member said.

Nair, who hails from Chempazhanthi in Thiruvananthapuram, was an engineer in Dubai, while his wife, Saranya, was staying at Kochi along with 3 children and is a nursing student.

Ranjit was working in an IT firm at Thiruvananthapuram, while his wife, Indu, was an accountant in a cooperative bank at Kozhikode, a family member said. Ranjit's elder son Madhav had a lucky escape as he was sleeping in another room.

'Deeply distressed by the tragic news of the passing away of eight Indian tourists in Nepal,' External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted.

He said the Indian embassy officials are stationed at the hospital and are providing necessary assistance.

The Indian mission has assured all necessary assistance to the family members of the victims.

In Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled the death of Malayali tourists in Nepal.

On the directions of the chief minister, officials have taken steps to expedite procedures for the repatriation of the mortal remains of the victims, his office said.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said that the Indian Embassy officials were taking steps to bring the bodies back to India as early as possible.

Superintendent Sushil Singh Rathaur of Makwanpur police said an investigation is underway.

"The tragedy could have been avoided if they had kept at least a door or a window open after turning the gas on," Dr Kamal Dawadi of Hetauda hospital was quoted as saying by the Post report.

According to Thaha Municipality Mayor Labsher Bista, the tragedy happened because the resort, built about two decades ago, does not have air conditioners, the report said.

"The hotel entrepreneurs need to learn a lesson from this incident," he said.

Nepal witnesses cold wave condition between December and January.

Daman is a famous hill station situated 70-km south of Kathmandu, where people visit for magnificent mountain view.

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Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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