Nepal raises sherpa insurance payouts

 

Nepal has raised life insurance payouts for sherpa guides by 50 per cent, more than three months after the deadliest accident in Mount Everest's history sparked protests and led to a shutdown of the peak.

The April 18 avalanche left 16 local guides dead and fuelled demands for better compensation as well as higher death and injury benefit payouts to the sherpas' families.

The resulting labour dispute between sherpas and the Nepalese government, which earns large revenues from mountaineering, caused scores of expeditions cancelled, with only one successful summit after most climbers abandoned their plans to scale the 8848-metre peak.

Nepalese tourism ministry spokesman, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, announced on Friday that sherpas working on Himalayan peaks will now have life insurance of 1.5 million rupees ($A16,400)."

Life insurance limits were earlier set at $US10,000 ($A10,820) with guides calling for the figure to be doubled to $US20,000.

"We know this amount is less than what they wanted, but we had to consult the private sector as well and this is the best we can do now," Sapkota told AFP.

"We will try to raise it further but it will take time."

Ramesh Prasad Dhamala, president of Nepal's Trekking Agencies' Association, called the news "a positive development".

He noted, however, that the government had yet to pay compensation or insurance benefits to victims' families, more than three months after the avalanche.

The government initially pledged $US400 to the families of the 16 men but later hiked the compensation to $US5000 after angry sherpas protested the sum was too small.

The government had also pledged to set up a relief fund for injured guides using up to five per cent of fees paid by climbers, but no final decision had been taken yet, Sapkota said.

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