Kathmandu: Rescue helicopter on Saturday began airlifting 2,500 foreign tourists stranded at the Mount Everest base camp, bringing to safety 120 tourists from the Lukla airport.
    
Though thick fog continued to hamper rescue efforts, some small helicopters run by private operators managed to land at Lukla to pick up the marooned tourist in batches.
    
Nepalese army spokesman Ramindar Chhetri said more than 120 people had been airlifted, but more than 2,400 tourists mostly from US, UK and Germany were still stranded at Lukla, which serves as a gateway for trekkers and mountaineers headed for the Everest base camp.

Chhetri said that poor visibility had prevented the landing of larger MI-17 helicopters for the second consecutive day to operate rescue ferries.
    
The marooned trekkers have been stranded at the airstrip for the past six days and are reported to be running short of food and medicines.
   
With the number of stranded tourists increasing, some of them are taking shelter in tents as hotel accommodation is running thin.
   
The Everest base camp is a big draw with tourists visiting Nepal with thousands flocking to the region during the current peak season.
    
Around 700 travellers fly in and out of Lukla on a normal day, when weather condition is good.

(Agencies)