Nearly 2000 people, including many foreign tourists, are stranded in the foothills of Mount Everest due to inclement weather.
Foreign trekkers, Nepalese guides and porters are among those that have been stuck in the remote, mountainous region for five days. Hotels are reportedly overflowing and food is scarce as the influx of tourists wait for a flight out of the Tenzing-Hillary airport in Lukla - the gateway for trekkers wishing to scale the world's tallest mountain.
Lukla, which lies at a height of 9,186 feet, is located about 78 miles northeast of Nepal's capital and largest city, Kathmandu. Lukla airport is one the busiest airports in Nepal. As many as 55 flights a day touch down in Lukla during the Everest region's peak season from September to November.
Flights between Lukla and Kathmandu have been grounded for nearly a week, according to Secretary in the Ministry for Tourism and Civil Aviation Ganesh Raj Sharma.
We have requested Nepal Army to arrange a helicopter for rescuing the stranded tourists from Lukla in Solukhumbu district, Sharma said in a statement.
Yet, Nepal Army spokesman Ramindra Chhetri confirmed that due to low visibility, the helicopter rescue sent by the Army was forced to return to the airport without landing at Lukla.
They plan to try again on Saturday.
Reports say that some helicopters were able to pick up tourists from the nearby Sirke village, but bad weather continues to hamper these efforts.
Meanwhile, the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) and the Tourism Crisis Cell (TCC) called an emergency meeting Friday to discuss ways to expedite the rescue.
Visibility is almost nil. Fog and clouds have covered the entire area, making flights by fixed-wing small aircraft impossible, Utsav Raj Kharel, chief of Lukla's airport, told Reuters.
Meteorologists say that the clouds may continue to blanket the region for several days, worsening the plight of the trapped tourists that are in need of food and supplies.
The hotels of Solukhumbu District were forced to use their dining rooms as sleeping quarters for tourists while many guides and porters sleep outside, the BBC reports.
Trekkers at higher altitudes on Everest were asked not to descend to Lukla because there is no space left.
Last year, a similar stretch of bad weather stranded tourists for 15 days, resulting in a severe food crisis.
Tens of thousands of trekkers and climbers visit the Solukhumbu region in northeastern Nepal each year. Most begin their adventure at the small, windswept resort town of Lukla.
Nepal is South Asia's poorest county. It receives nearly four percent of its gross domestic product from tourists who venture into the scenic countryside to wander through the Himalayan highlands. The nation has eight of the world's 14 highest peaks including Mt. Everest, which stands at 29,029 feet.