Women lost in Nepal ate grass, bamboo to survive

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2011 12:52 PM
Women lost in Nepal ate grass, bamboo to survive

A Japanese woman who was lost in Nepal's mountains for nearly two weeks said Friday that she survived by eating grass, drinking river water, taking shelter in small caves and praying.

Makiko Iwafuchi, 49, of Chiba, said she left her hotel May 25 for a short stroll near the Goshainkunda lake. She left the main trail and could not find it again.

She said she walked for days but was unable to find the trail or come in contact with any villagers until Tuesday, when she heard voices.

"I screamed, saying, 'Hello! Please help me!'" she told reporters after returning to Katmandu on Friday. "It was a miracle. I felt at ease and thanked God."

Aside from some visible insect bites, she appeared to be fine three days after her ordeal about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Katmandu, at an elevation of more than 14,000 feet (4,300 meters).

Iwafuchi said that when she got lost roughly 1,600 feet (500 meters) from the trail, she waited for help in the area for two days. When no one came, she decided to search for a way back.

The local police and soldiers had begun a search a day after she went missing, but they found no trace of her.

She said she walked from dawn to dusk for days, eating grass and bamboo and drinking river water. She took shelter in small caves on the mountain and under rocks, covering herself with leaves.

"The weather was not cold. It only drizzled a few days," she said, though she added that one night she did get soaked when she had only a tree to protect her from the rain.

"I knew there were not dangerous animals in the area, so I was safe," Iwafuchi said.

"I prayed if I survive I will change. I will be kind to people and more generous. There was a couple of times that I feared I will not survive, but I still believed that God will give me a second chance," she said.

After Iwafuchi was found, she was carried to the local hospital. She said doctors treated her blistered toes but found her to be in good health otherwise.

Iwafuchi plans to continue trekking, but not by herself.

Separately, not far from where Iwafuchi got lost, rescuers in Nepal removed the body of a Japanese woman who died in an avalanche while trying to scale the 19,172-foot-high (5,844-meter-high) Naya Kanga peak in Rashuwa district.

The body of 63-year-old Masue Yoshida was flown by helicopter to Katmandu on Friday and taken to a hospital, where relatives and representatives from the Japanese Embassy received the body.

The avalanche struck Yoshida and her Nepali trekking guide Saturday, killing them both. Rescuers have not yet found the body of the guide.