Melbourne mother of two Renu Fotedar has been confirmed as being among 20 people killed in an avalanche triggered on Mount Everest by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal.
On Monday morning, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said embassy officials were “urgently seeking” to investigate reports that an Australian climber was among those killed when an avalanche hit Everest base camp.
The 49-year-old was last seen at the Everest base camp, and since the earthquake, friends and family had taken to social media in a desperate attempt to find her.
Trekking company Dreamers Destination confirmed that Ms Fotedar, believed to have been on her first expedition, had been killed and the company was trying to return her body to Kathmandu.
A Dreamers Destination Trek and Expeditions representative said Ms Fotedar’s body had been recovered and was being taken to the Nepalese capital.
“She’s on the way to Kathmandu right now,” he told AAP.
“She’s from Australia.”
The trekking company’s managing director Temba Tsheri said Ms Fotedar was inside a tent in base camp when the quake hit.
“A big avalanche came and a lot of people were washed away. There was no time,” he told News Corp Australia.
“It so fast it was like a dream. They couldn’t do anything.
“There was a big sound. They didn’t get the chance to run away. There was no place to hide.”
On Sunday, an expedition sherpa from the tour company, Temba Tsheri, said an Australian was among a dozen people killed, including Google executive Dan Fredinburg.
“I have lost four team members in the avalanche – two Nepalis, one Chinese and Australian,” he told media.
According to her social media profile, Indian-born Ms Fotedar completed an MBA at the University of Wollongong before setting up a business in Melbourne in 2005, and was a “transpersonal counsellor, life coach and international speaker”.
She had been living in Switzerland for three years.
The Red Cross listing of missing people said Ms Foteda had been living in Montreux before the quake.
Ms Fotedar’s husband has travelled to Nepal to recover her body.
She will be taken to India where her final rites will be held.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment.
Australian families are still trying to trace 200 missing relatives as rescue crews continue to frantically dig through rubble in search of survivors following a powerful earthquake that struck Nepal early on Saturday.
The 7.8-magnitude quake has killed more than 3,600 people and triggered a fatal avalanche on Mount Everest, as well as a series of aftershocks that continue across the region.
Worried relatives of the missing continue to inundated social media with pleas for help and information, and have reported loved ones missing on the Red Cross Family Links website, where travellers in the affected region can check in and confirm they are alive.
Packed to the Rafters actor Hugh Sheridan has pleaded for prayers for his younger brother Zachary, 20, who was on Mt Everest at the time of the disaster.
He is travelling to Nepal to look for him and posted this to his Instagram page on Monday.
Thank you everyone for your messages and your kind words. I’m on my way to Nepal now and will head toward base camp to try and find Zachary. I will be with a small crew helping with a chopper, a dr and we will have a satellite phone available for any Australian there who needs to reach home and tell their loved ones they’re ok, I know so many of us are still waiting to hear but communication is down. Stay positive everyone, I feel optimistic that he is alive and stuck. I know that the news have been eager to talk to my mum but it would be respectful to leave her alone at this time. My heart goes out to every family who is still waiting to hear, I can’t imagine how they feel at Mt Everest. I’m looking forward to seeing my little brother and getting him out safely. This was the last picture he sent me, he sure captured her beauty. #family #nepal #australia #speaklove
A photo posted by Hugh Sheridan (@hugh_sheridan) on
Meanwhile, on April 6, Australian man Tyronne White posted on his Facebook page that he was about to embark on a three-week trek between Kathmandu and the Chinese border.
“See you all on the other side. Salud!!” wrote the adventurer, who is originally from Taree on the NSW mid-north coast, but who has been travelling throughout the world for the past eight years.
Monday marks three weeks since the 44-year-old set off on that trek and his anxious family and friends are waiting and hoping for any news that he is safe.
“We’re a pretty close-knit family and we’re trying to keep our chins up,” his cousin, Marc Wade Patek, from Sydney told Fairfax.
“As a family we’re just trying to rally together and stay positive, but his mother is a mess. He would phone home, if there was any way possible. He would definitely be trying to do that.
“He’s a very sensible traveller. He’s been in situations that would scare the hell out of us. We all just want to know that he’s safe and sound wherever he is.”
Aid on its way
Hospitals in Nepal are struggling to treat thousands of injured earthquake survivors, as the country’s national disaster management chief raised the official death toll to 3,218.
Aftershocks continue to jolt Kathmandu and surrounding areas in the wake of Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was offering $5 million in aid as a first response and would be considering what else it could do to help on the ground.
Ms Bishop said a crisis response team was being sent to Nepal to help establish the number of Australians in the country while also providing humanitarian assistance.
Ms Bishop said it was unclear how many Australians were in Nepal, but said 830 of them had so far been confirmed safe.
“We’ve activated the 24/7 emergency call unit and to date we’ve taken more than 1250 calls from family and friends of missing Australians,” said Ms Bishop.
“We are trying to confirm the number of Australians in the country and we will try to make contact with all of them.
“We have deployed a crisis response team to Nepal; that team will assist in establishing the welfare of Australians unaccounted for after the earthquake and of course will also assist with humanitarian assessments to support the Nepalese government.”
The 7.8-magnitude quake struck on Saturday near Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, and setting off the avalanche that slammed into Everest’s Base Camp, engulfing scores of climbers.
- ICRC missing persons list
- DFAT: 1300 555 135
- DFAT: +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas)
- To contribute to @ ‘s # appeal visit unicef.org.au or call 1300 884 233
– with ABC/AAP