Update Friday, May 1, 9:30 a.m. MST:
NOLS is pleased to report that the Himalaya Mountaineering course has made contact from its planned route and that all students and staff are doing well and are in good spirits. This will be the final update to this blog post.
Update Monday, April 27, 1 p.m. MST:
We continue to hold Nepal in our thoughts and prayers. NOLS is also in communication with the families of students in India.
Because we heard from the Spring Semester in India and from the villages through which the Himalaya Cultural Expedition is traveling, we do not expect to hear from them further.
NOLS India has also confirmed with villagers in the area the Himalaya Mountaineering course is traveling that there have not been any tremors or avalanches. The course has not contacted NOLS offices, which reflects the protocol to only call if they feel or hear about an earthquake. Unlike Nepal and Everest Base Camp, satellite phones are illegal in India. The course does have three personal locator beacons—to be used only in case of emergency—and two cell phones, none of which have been employed.
Below is a map noting the location of the NOLS operating area, in which all three courses are located.
On Saturday morning, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, approximately 50 miles from the capital of Kathmandu. Three courses are currently underway in India, but most of the earthquake shock wave has moved south and southwest away from NOLS operating areas, and no earthquakes have been reported in the country.
NOLS has made contact with the Spring Semester in India, which did not report being affected. NOLS has spoken with many villagers close to the Himalaya Cultural Expedition, and they report no effects from the earthquake. The Himalaya Mountaineering course is currently traveling approximately 325 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake. NOLS protocol is for courses to call in only if they feel tremors or hear of an earthquake, so given the distance from the epicenter and the absence of phone calls, it is highly unlikely that they have felt any tremors.
NOLS is communicating closely with families of all students on these three courses and will update this post and the NOLS India and NOLS Facebook pages as necessary. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many people affected by this tragedy.
Casey worked as a writer and PR specialist for NOLS.