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Nepal approves some Sherpa demands amid boycott threat

KATMANDU, Nepal -- Nepal agreed Tuesday to set up a relief fund for Sherpas who are killed or injured in climbing accidents, one of several key concessions to the mountain guides after Mount Everest's deadliest disaster.

The announcement by the Tourism Ministry came after the Sherpas threatened a climbing boycott unless the government agreed to adequate compensation. A boycott would throw the lucrative Everest climbing season into doubt.

Nepal appears to have agreed — at least in part — to many of the most important demands, although the funding falls well short of what the Sherpas wanted. There was no immediate official response from the Sherpa community.

Sherpa guides were hauling climbing gear between camps Friday when a chunk of ice tore loose and triggered an avalanche. Thirteen bodies were recovered and three Sherpas still missing are presumed dead.

The government quickly said it would pay the family of each Sherpa who died 40,000 rupees, or about US$415. The Sherpas said they deserve far more — including more insurance money, more financial aid for the families of the victims and new regulations that would ensure climbers' rights.

The Ministry of Tourism said in its statement the government had agreed to the following:

— A relief fund to help Sherpas injured in mountaineering accidents and the families of those killed, and to pay for rescue during accidents on the mountain.

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