One of the five French Foreign Legion soldiers killed in Alps avalanche was Nepalese

Foreign Legion
Nabin Khepangi, second from left in the background, was one of the five legionnaires tragically killed in French Alps.

It has been learned that one of the five French Foreign Legion soldiers killed in Monday’s avalanche in the French Alps was a Nepalese man. French authorities said the avalanche came down close to Valfrejus where around 50 soldiers were training.

A social media picture posted Tuesday identified the deceased as Nabin Khepangi from Sindhuli district of Nepal. Rest of the four legionnaires to die in the tragic event were from four different nations.

No further details about the deceased have been released by the French authorities so far. It is understood Mr Khepangi was serving in the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment, one of two combat engineer regiments in the French Foreign Legion. It provides combat engineering services to the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade stationed at Vaucluse, southern France.

It is not yet clear if Mr Khepangi was still a Nepalese citizen or French. Legionnaires, if injured in the line of duty, can immediately apply for French citizenship. Fit men from any country in the world can apply to be recruited in the Legion but only the best of the best make it through the rigorous selection process of the 7700-strong force which is made up of people from 140 countries. As a result, the Legion is known for its ability to absorb misfits and turn them into elite killing machines.

Unlike British Army that travels deep into the Nepalese mountains, the fertile ground of brave Gurkhas, head-hunting for the fittest of the fit young men, the French government does nothing of the sort. The only way to be a legionnaire is to buy an air ticket to France and present yourself in one of the 11 recruitment centres. If selected, you are contracted for a minimum of five years and can be a part of the rapid response deployment anywhere in the world.

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