Kunda Dixit / Nepali Times:
Captain Alexander Maximov used to fly MiG fighters in Russsia before coming to Nepal to work for Avia Club in Pokhara.
On Saturday morning he had taken a tourist up the Seti Valley in his blue single-engined Ukrainian-made Aeroprakt to see the Annapurnas up close. It wasn’t a perfect day and there were lingering clouds from last night’s thunderstorm. He got back to Pokhara, and took off again immediately with another passenger before the winds picked up over the mountains.
He had reached his cruising altitude of 10,000ft above the Seti 17 miles north of airport with Machapuchre and Annapurna 4 towering over him. Looking down, he noticed something odd. The Seti wasn’t its usual think white thread at the bottom of the valley, but looked like an angry brown rope. The leading edge of the wave was a dark wall of water about 10 metres high.
Because of his military training, Maximov knew exactly what he was seeing and thought he better alert people downstream. He immediately radioed Pokhara tower and told the air traffic controller that “a big water” was coming down the Seti. The control tower informed the security agencies, and it was possibly because of this half-hour early warning that a lot of lives were saved. More:
At least 10 people have been swept away and dozens including trekkers are missing after a flashflood early Saturday on the Seti River that seems to have been triggered by an avalanche upstream in the Annapurna mountains.
Latest reports say buses and houses have been swept away on the outskirts of Pokhara and police are trying to make their way up the Seti River to ascertain damage. Army helicopters have been combing the narrow gorge of the Seti to rescue survivors and pinpoint the exact location of the avalanche. Thousands are thronging the bridges to see the river which flows beneath the city. More