KATHMANDU, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Following the death of at least eight climbers and the missing of one climber at the south face of Mount Qomolangma this spring season, the Nepal government has formed a five-member panel to review and recommend policies to reform the mountaineering sector.
Issuing a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Tourism (DoT), the authorized body to issue climbing permits, said that the panel is mandated to come up with suggestions on existing policies, laws, structures and working procedures.
"The government is concerned about the issues raised in the mountaineering sector and is committed to making climbing safe and secured," Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general at the DoT, told Xinhua.
The panel is led by the chief of Human Resource Management and Tourism Promotion Division under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
At a time when the "traffic jam" in the world's highest peak was blamed as the major reason for growing fatalities, the department refuted overcrowding and maximum issuance of climbing permits as the causes.
"As per the reports submitted by concerned expedition agencies and liaison officers, the causes of deaths include high altitude, unfavorable weather and short weather window, weak physical condition and sudden fainting of climbers," the department said.
This year the government issued a total of 381 permits for 44 expedition teams to climb the 8,848-meter-high peak. To assist these climbers, there were altogether 642 high-altitude workers including Sherpa guides.
According to the department, the number of permits issued this year was only 35 more than the number in 2018, when 346 received climbing permits and only 15 more than that in 2017, when 366 permits were issued.
The government body said the permits were issued in compliance with the Tourism Act 1978 and Mountaineering Expedition Regulations 2002.