AN ex-serviceman was stranded at Mount Everest Base Camp when it went into lockdown.

Brian McAlpine, from Westcliff, had flown out to Nepal to take part in one of many challenges he is doing this year to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

The 52-year-old flew to the country on March 12, but when he reached the camp it went into lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Mr McAlpine, who served in the Royal Engineers from 1984 until 1991, was due to leave for another region today and set to fly home on March 29, however his flight home has now been cancelled.

He said: “It’s been impossible to get in touch with my insurance company as of yet, as they are always busy.

“I’ve not even heard from my airline, Emirates, telling me that they have cancelled my flights.

“I am one of 14 UK residents in this predicament. We have all sent our details to the uk embassy but still had no reply.

“Whilst I was actually in the air, Nepal authorities declared that visas to trek in Nepal were going to be suspended, so we were fortunate enough to get ours with 36 hours to spare.

“It wasn’t until after we reached base camp on Monday 23rd that we found out that Nepal have gone into lockdown.

“There are no internal flights until next week but the company we all booked through, Evertrek, have been amazing.

“They are in touch with the British embassy here in Nepal and are doing their best to charter a plane/helicopter to get us down from Lukla to Katmandu.”

He added: “Emirates have cancelled my flights and not even informed me. They just removed it from my Emirates app on my phone.

“We are all in great spirits, well looked after and fed well.

“All the shops and tea houses are now closed but Evertrek have made sure we have got food and accommodation.

“We have all sent our details to the British Embassy at Katmandu but none of us have heard anything back.”

An Emirates spokesperson said: “The implementation of flight and travel restrictions by countries around the world to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, has been ongoing for the past weeks.

"Many were put in place with very little notice. Emirates understands that these are disruptive to travel, but as an airline operator, we have to follow government and regulatory directives.

"On 23 March, the UAE government directed that all passengers flights to/from and transiting the UAE should be suspended for two weeks.

"This means all Emirates passenger flights have to be temporarily suspended from 25 March.

"Since then, our teams have been working hard to inform customers and re-book as many as possible onto our remaining flights or others.

"But with many airlines having already significantly reduced their flights, it simply is not possible to accommodate every traveller."