Nepal police searching for five missing people after avalanche

This file photo shows Nepalese rescuers search through mud and debris after a flash flood in the Seti river at Kharapani village of Kaski district, about 200km west of capital Katmandu, Nepal, May 7, 2012. (PHOTO / AP)

KATHMANDU – Dozens of police rescuers were scouring a remote area in northwest Nepal on Wednesday looking for five villagers who went missing after being hit by an avalanche while searching for a valuable aphrodisiac herb, an official said.

Four women and one man were missing since Tuesday when an avalanche hit their camp at the village of Byas while seven others escaped, Darchula district official Pradip Singh Dhami said by phone. The area lies about 500km northwest of the national capital of Kathmandu.

This picture taken on November 22, 2018, shows a general view of the Imja glacial lake in Solukhumbu district, some 140km northeast of Kathmandu. Formed in the shadow of Mount Everest, the turquoise depths of Nepal's Imja glacial lake would be a breathtaking miracle of nature to behold — were they not a portent of catastrophic floods. (PHOTO / AFP)

"The search for the missing villagers has been hampered by continuous snowfall and rain in the area," Dhami said.

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Hundreds of villagers go to the foothills of the Himalayas during the summer to pick up the fungus-like herb, which is also known as the "Himalayan Viagra".

Sixteen villagers collecting the expensive herb were killed in the remote Dolpa region bordering China during a heavy snow storm in 2007.