A 21-year-old Taiwanese man has been found alive after spending 47 days in the Himalayan wilderness with his girlfriend, who died three days before rescuers found them.

Liang Sheng Yueh and 19-year-old Liu Chen Chun, both students at Taiwan's National Dong Hwa University, had set out trekking in heavy snow in northern Dhading, 100 km north of Kathmandu, on 9 March.

Liang and Liu were on the Ganesh Himal trail and were attempting to follow a river in order to find a village called Langtang, where friends from their home country were staying.

They slipped and fell over a waterfall and landed on a ridge from which they could move neither up nor down. Their families reported them missing on 15 March. The pair had food supplies for the first two weeks but then lived on water and salt. After Liu died, Liang spent three days next to her body.

Helicopter rescue

Once weather conditions improved the couples's families hired a helicopter and three Sherpas to scour the area, near the village of Tipling at an altitude of 2,600 metres, but failed to find the couple. The rescuers returned on 20 April, when they saw a red tent and clambered down to the ledge.

"We found the man alive and able to speak to us, but the woman was already dead. We could not carry them so we called a helicopter," said Asian Trekking agency official Madhav Basnet, according to the Chicago Tribune. It winched up Liang, followed by the body of Liu.

A view of the Himalayas from the International Space Station Nasa

Liang lost 30 kg during his ordeal but is now out of danger and recovering at Grandee International Hospital in Kathmandu. "He can speak slowly," Dr Sanjaya Karki told BBC Nepal. "He told me his girlfriend died three days ago. He doesn't have trauma injuries, but his body has injuries stemming from worm bites."