KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal on Saturday marked the anniversary of Mount Everest's deadliest avalanche with a memorial and a government announcement that it will set up a welfare fund for mountaineering and trekking workers in the Himalayan nation.
The April 18, 2014, avalanche killed 16 Sherpa guides who were carrying their loads just above Everest's base camp.
Following the disaster, the worst ever on Everest, the guides accused Nepal's government of not doing enough for them despite making millions in permit fees from the Western mountaineers who attempt to scale the tall Himalayan peaks. The guides protested by refusing to work on the mountain, leading to the cancellation of last year's climbing season.
On Saturday, the government announced that a portion of the permit fees charged to trekkers and mountaineers would be used for a welfare fund to help people working in Nepal's trekking industry.
Tourism Secretary Suresh Man Shrestha said the fund would be used for the rescue and rehabilitation of injured trekking and mountaineering guides, and to help the families of workers who are killed.
Trekkers are charged $10 and mountaineers $20 for the Trekkers' Information Management System permit, of which 10 percent will go toward the fund. Shrestha estimated that it would amount to about $200,000 annually.
A memorial service was held at the Nepal Mountaineering Association's office in Kathmandu, the capital, to mark the anniversary. About 200 people attended the ceremony, including relatives of victims of the avalanche and mountaineering and other officials, with some offering flowers and prayers.