Flu saves local trekkers from Nepalese avalanche
HAVING the flu during the holiday of a lifetime to the top of the world has seen five former Byron Bay High School students avoid possible death in the Nepalese avalanche.
So far, a total 43 people have been confirmed dead and 289 people have been rescued since three separate avalanches caused by the tail end of cyclone Hudhud dumped thousands of tonnes of snow and ice on the popular Annapurna Circuit trekking route last Thursday.
Fortunately, Jennifer Healey said, her son Gene and his mates Jai Ranke, Jayden Polidano, Wilbur Pearson and Andre Sbaraini, who were on the trekking route at the time, had sheltered while suffering influenza.
"On the way up the Annapurna Circuit they were held up by flu," she said.
"The boys were two stops away from Manang where the major avalanche occurred."
Travelling together, without a guide or Sherpa, on the well-worn circuit, Mrs Healey said it was lucky the men stuck together.
"They had they flu so they stayed in a hut for two days and if they hadn't have done that, they would have been right in the middle of the avalanche at Manang.
"They were five local lads together in Nepal who all did the HSC together at Byron High in 2012."
Mrs Healey said for 48 hours after the avalanches, none of the families knew if the men were dead or alive.
"For two days we didn't know what had happened and whether the boys were dead or alive."
"We didn't know where they were or what was happening."
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After trying to find out information through the Australian Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Healey said social media relieved the worry.
"The best information we could find was on the Annapurna Avalanche Facebook site; it was absolutely brilliant.
"Who ever put the Facebook group together is fantastic and that gave us all the updates and as much information and maps as we could get."
Yesterday, all five men made it safely to the city of Pokhara, and Mrs Healey hoped to talk to Gene last night.
"I haven't spoken to Gene yet. He got into Pokhara today and we hope to speak to him via Facebook or on Skype."