Bodies of the eight tourists from Kerala who died at a resort in Nepal will be flown back to the state on Thursday.
The eight victims, including four children, who were part of a 15-member group, died due to possible asphyxiation in their room at a mountainous resort in Nepal.
The group travelling from Kerala to Pokhara, a popular mountainous tourist destination, were on their way back home and had stayed at Everest Panorama Resort in Daman in the Makawanpur district on Monday night.
Early reports say they fell unconscious possibly due to a gas leak from a heater in their room at the resort. Seven members of the group reportedly survived because they slept in a separate room.
Bodies of the deceased were flown from Kathmandu to New Delhi on Thursday morning and will be brought to Thiruvananthapuram in the evening. The bodies will be kept in a mortuary at night and will be brought to their house on Friday morning.
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 the remaining others in another room, the manager said, with all the windows and the door of the room bolted from inside.
“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.
Shiva said that when the hotel staff knocked on the door at 8 am to serve them tea, there was no response.
The tourists were airlifted to HAMS hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival.
Who were they?
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.
Praveen Krishnan Nair and Ranjith Kumar Adatholath Punathil, 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, stayed in Kochi along with their three children and was a nursing student.
All three of their children had their birthdays this month and the trip to Nepal had been planned to celebrate it, Mathrubhumi said.
Ranjit worked at an IT firm at Thiruvananthapuram, while his wife, Indu, was an accountant at a cooperative bank at Kozhikode, a family member said. The couple had celebrated their wedding anniversary on January 16.
Ranjit’s elder son Madhav escaped the tragedy as he was sleeping in another room. Madhav, who arrived in Kochi on Wednesday, has not been told about the death of his family.
What the police and mayor said
Superintendent of Police Sushil Singh Rathore said that as the temperature was between three and six degrees, the victims had asked for a big gas heater. The hotel didn’t have a big heater, so staffers brought it from elsewhere. The heater was lit in their room at around 2 am, a myrepublica report quoted him as saying.
Makwanpur police said the victims might have fallen unconscious due to asphyxiation.
The police said that the tragedy could have been averted if they had kept at least a door or a window open after operating the gas heater.
The resort in Daman is 75 kms away from Kathmandu and sits at an altitude of nearly 2,500 metres above the sea level. Most of the hotels in the area do not have air-conditioning facility.
The tragedy occurred as the two-decade-old resort does not have air conditioners, Labsher Bista, the mayor of Thaha Municipality in the district, said.
“The hotel entrepreneurs need to learn a lesson from this incident,” he said.
Nepal witnesses cold wave condition between December and January end.
Postmortem of the bodies was conducted on Wednesday at the Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu.
The Nepal government has formed a five-member team to investigate the incident and submit a report within 15 days.
The Department of Tourism in a press statement said that the committee would follow standards set by the government, myrepublica news portal reported.
(With inputs from PTI)