• An injured hiker is carried to safety. 
Credit: www.nbcnews.com
    An injured hiker is carried to safety. Credit: www.nbcnews.com

A blizzard has caused avalanches killing at least 28 hikers, tour mountaineers and herders on Wednesday.

Officials fear the death toll will be much higher as at least 70 people are still unaccounted for.

Rescue operations have successfully retrieved 140 people from numerous Himalayan hiking routes.

Around 168 hikers were registered on the popular Annapurna hiking circuit on Wednesday, with many of those announced missing later that day.

The nationalities reported dead or missing include Nepalese, Israeli, Polish, Canadian and Indian.

A rescue search was conducted on Wednesday for four Canadians and one Indian who were amongst the missing.   

As the blizzards struck Nepal during the height of the trekking season, officials state that there would have been many climbers on the passes.

The 240km Annapurna Circuit, is a much less demanding hike that attracts many casual hikers around the world.

Unlike trekking in the Everest region, many of these trekkers have no mountaineering or wilderness experience.

This disaster follows the avalanche that killed 16 mountain workers and 13 Sherpas on Mount Everest six months ago.

Correspondents say that this has been a disastrous year for Nepal’s trekking and mountaineering industry.

Thousands head to the Himalayas from October – November for its remote beauty and high altitude mountain passes. Nepal’s high peaks attract the world’s best climbers, with trekking trails that are generally safe and appealing to outdoor enthusiasts.

The avalanche occurred after a snowstorm on Tuesday, following blizzards and rains from Cyclone Hudhud. On Sunday the cyclone wiped through Nepal and India affecting 400,000 and killing 24 people.

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