COVID-19: Nine Malaysian climbers stranded in Nepal plead to Wisma Putra to bring them home


A GROUP of nine Malaysian climbers to Everest Base Camp (EBC) stranded in Lukla and Kathmandu, Nepal since March 23, is appealing to Wisma Putra to bring them home.

They were stranded in Nepal after the government announced its lockdown, which also banned all domestic and international flights in the country since Tuesday to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The group’s spokesperson, Dr Jeevitha Brama Kumar, 31, said nine of them, including herself, arrived in Kathmandu on March 11, took a domestic flight to Lukla and completed their gruelling trek on March 23.

The medical doctor said while the Nepal government imposed its one-week lockdown on March 24, it was the same day that her team of four were scheduled to depart to Kathmandu from Lukla.

“The other five members of our group were unwell at the EBC itself, and they were choppered out to Kathmandu on March 22, which is two days before we completed the trekking.

“We are currently stuck in the tiny village of Lukla, no shower for 16 days with very cold temperatures, no proper heating and electricity is erratic and we need to pay to charge our phones, wi-fi, food, and water.

“We are not allowed to walk out of the confines of our lodge, our limited funds and inability to withdraw money at the ATMs force us to ration our money,” she told Bernama through WhatsApp today.

She said they were supposed to fly from Kathmandu to Kuala Lumpur on March 29, but that has been postponed to April 13 and after the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia was extended, their flight has been pushed to the April 15.

“We left Malaysia before any travel restrictions were laid down, looking at the growing number of COVID-19 cases, we shortened our trip as well.

“Right now, nobody is allowed to trek anymore. All the Malaysians in the Everest region are in Namche Bazaar, Phakding, and Lukla.

“Every time we book a flight, it gets cancelled. Some people have even booked four different flights to get home, but it keeps getting cancelled,” she said.

Hence, Dr Jeevitha said they had contacted the Malaysian Embassy in Kathmandu and gave their personal details and flight number.

“Never did we imagine that the hardest part of our experience would be ending up stranded in Nepal, not knowing when we can return home,” she said.

When contacted by Bernama, the embassy’s spokesman said they were still trying to reach all the Malaysians who are stuck in Nepal.

“Currently, a total of 35 Malaysians are stranded in Nepal. We are still trying to reach out to the rest of them outside Kathmandu at this moment.

“Once we get the updated list, we will forward it to Wisma Putra, we want to ensure their safety before send them home,” he said.

The Nepal government on Monday announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24 till March 31 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.