On way back from trip, 8 Keralites die in Nepal resort; bodies likely to reach state tomorrow

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Everest Panorama Resort in Daman in Nepal's Makawanpur district. Eight Kerala tourists died of possible gas leak from heater here. (Photo: Facebook @Everest Panorama Resort, Daman)

As many as eight Keralaite tourists died in Nepal on Tuesday after they fell unconscious due to a possible gas leak in their resort room where they had checked into on their way back from their trip to Pokhara, a popular mountainous destination.

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All of them were airlifted to HAMS hospital, where they were declared dead on arrival, Sushil Singh Rathaur, Superintendent of Police, Makawanpur, said. The deceased were identified as Prabin Kumar Nayar (39), Sharanya (34), Ranjit Kumar TB (39), Indu Ranjit (34), Shree Bhadra (9), Abinab Soraya (9), Abi Nayar (7), and Baishnab Ranjit (2), The Kathmandu Post reported.

On their way back to Kerala, a group of 15 tourists had checked into Everest Panorama Resort in Daman in Makawanpur district on Monday night. According to the resort manager, although they had booked a total of four rooms, eight of them, including two couples and four children, stayed in one room. Once they checked into their room, they turned on a gas heater to keep themselves warm, the manager said, adding that all the windows and the door were bolted from inside. Police suspect they might have passed out due to lack of ventilation.

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Prabin Kumar Nayar and family; (right) Ranjit Kumar and family.

Efforts to bring back bodies underway

Soon after this, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Tuesday expressed "deep grief" over the death of eight Keralite tourists at a Nepal resort, a release from the Chief Minister's Office said. The bodies are expected to be brought to the state Wednesday after post-mortem, the statement added.

In a tweet, the chief minister's office said that the department of Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) has taken steps to expedite the repatriation of the tourists' mortal remains. "Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has condoled the passing away of eight Malayali tourists in Nepal. On the directions of the Chief Minister, NORKA officials have taken steps to expedite procedures for the repatriation of the mortal remains," the tweet read.

Vijayan also wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishanakar seeking his intervention for providing all possible assistance to the kin of the victims.

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Hospital staff observe as the bodies of eight Keralite tourists who died due to suspected suffocation are carried inside an ambulance while being taken for postmortem in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo: Reuters)

Expressing shock over the tragedy, Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the government directed the state DGP to get in touch with the Nepal police and take necessary steps. "Also talked to Union Minister V Muraleedharan over phone. He ensured all necessary intervention to bring the mortal remains to the state as early as possible," PTI quoted him as saying.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan too said Indian Embassy officials in Kathmandu were at work to bring the bodies back to India as soon as possible. "We are in regular touch with the Indian embassy in Kathmandu", he said.

Friends, family members in shock

Meanwhile, as news spread in their hometown Thiruvananthapuram, friends and families members of the deceased tried to come to terms with the shock and disbelief the mishap has brought to them.

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House of Prabin Kumar Nayar who died in Nepal. (Express Photo: IEMalayalam)

According to a family member Prabin Kumar and Ranjit Kumar, both IT professionals, were classmates while studying in engineering college and the tour was arranged after a reunion in Delhi. Prabin, who hails from Chempazhanthi in Thiruvananthapuram, worked as an engineer in Dubai while his wife, Sharanya, was a nursing student and lived in Kochi along with their three children.

Prabin and his family had visited their parents' home in the city during the Onam festival in September last year, said a neighbour, while a family friend said Prabin's aged parents have been told that the family has met with an accident. "We have not told them about the tragedy that had befallen," he told television channels.

Ranjit's family member said that he was working in an IT firm in Thiruvananthapuram, while his wife Indu was an accountant in a cooperative bank at Kozhikode. The couple's elder son Madhav who was sleeping in another room had a lucky escape.

(With inputs from PTI)