Thiruvananthapuram/Kozhikode: Shock and disbelief have beset the friends and family members of the two couples and four minor children hailing from Kerala who died in Nepal after falling unconscious probably due to a gas leak from a heater in their room at a mountainous resort.
They were part of a 15-member group from the state that was on a holiday in Pokhara, a popular Himalayan tourist destination currently struck by a cold wave.
The deceased were identified as Prabin Kumar Nair (39), Sharanya (34), Ranjit Kumar TB (39), Indu Ranjit (34), Shree Bhadra (9), Abinab Soraya (9), Abi Nair (7), and Baishnab Ranjit (2), The Kathmandu Post said.
The Centre and state government on Tuesday said efforts are being made to bring in their bodies at the earliest.
Prabin Kumar and Ranjit Kumar, both IT professionals, were engineering college classmates and the tour was arranged after a get-together with their old friends in Delhi, a family member said.
Prabin, who hails from Chempazhanthi in Thiruvananthapuram, worked as an engineer in Dubai while his wife, Sharanya, was a nursing student and lived in Kochi along with their three children.
A neighbour said Prabin and his family had visited their home here, where his aged parents live, during the Onam festival in September last year.
A family friend said Prabin's parents have as yet only been told that the family has met with an accident.
"We have not told them about the tragedy that had befallen," he told television channels.
Ranjit was working in an IT firm in Thiruvananthapuram, while his wife Indu was an accountant in a cooperative bank at Kozhikode, a family member said.
The couple's elder son Madhav had a lucky escape as he was sleeping in another room.
The Kerala Government on Tuesday said it would take all steps to ensure that the mortal remains of the eight Keralites are brought to the state as early as possible.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed "deep grief" over the incident, a release from the Chief Minister's Office said.
On the basis of the directions given by the Chief Minister, NORKA (Non Resident Keralite Affairs) officials have got in touch with the Indian Embassy in Nepal.
The bodies are expected to be brought to the state Wednesday after post-mortem, the statement added.
Vijayan also wrote a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishanakar seeking his intervention for rendering all possible assistance to the families and friends of the victims.
Expressing shock over the tragedy, Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the government has given directions to the state DGP to get in touch with the Nepal police and take necessary steps.
"Also talked to Union Minister V Muraleedharan over phone. He ensured all necessary intervention to bring the mortal remains to the state as early as possible," he added.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Tuesday said Indian Embassy officials in Kathmandu were taking steps to bring the bodies back to India as early as possible.
"We are in regular touch with the Indian embassy in Kathmandu", he said.
The Minister said a doctor at the Indian embassy went to the hospital where the bodies are kept to examine the reasons for the deaths.
According to media reports, the Indian tourists died after they fell unconscious due to asphyxiation after a possible gas leak in their room at a resort in Nepal.