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22 climbers dead in quake-triggered avalanche on Mt Everest


Kathmandu: At least 22 climbers have died and 217 others were missing near the base camp of Mount Everest where hundreds of climbers, including many foreigners, are stranded after an avalanche triggered by Nepal’s massive earthquake swept down the world’s highest peak.

More than 60 climbers were injured and many foreign adventurers, hikers and guides at the base camp were feared missing when the avalanche swept down the Everest and buried under snow a section of the mountaineering camp yesterday.

While 17 people were killed at the base camp, five more casualties were reported today from areas below the base camp, Home Ministry officials said.

“Tents have been blown away,” Gelu Sherpa, who was at the camp when disaster struck, said, adding, “There is a lot of confusion on the mountain and the toll will rise.”

Thirty-two people have been rescued from the region till now.

Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Tourism Ministry, said they were airlifted by five rescue helicopters.

Twenty-two of the most seriously injured climbers were today ferried by helicopters, including from the Indian Air Force, to Pheriche village, the nearest medical facility, though bad weather is hampering rescue and relief operations. Some of the injured have also been air lifted to the capital.

Romanian climber Alex Gavan, who was at base camp, posted on his Twitter account: “All badly injured heli evacuated. Caring for those needing. want sleep.”

There were more than 100 climbers also at camps I and II on Mount Everest, above the base camp, and all are reported safe, Nepal Mountaineering Association officials said today, adding that it will take time before these people can be evacuated.

A mountaineering team of Indian Army who were hiking on Everest were also safe at the base camp (17,500 ft) and had yesterday helped pull out 13 bodies, an Indian army spokesman said.

Another 54-year-old Indian attempting to climb all the highest peaks in the seven continents, is stuck at Camp II on Everest along with 11 other fellow climbers.

Ankur Bahl, part of the Madison Group, had moved to Camp II from Camp I yesterday but is now stranded.

One Chinese climber was among the dead while tech-firm Google today reported the death of one of its California-based executive, Dan Fredinburg, in the avalanche on Everest.

US-based Madison Mountaineering said its base camp doctor, Marisa Eve Girawong, died in the avalanche at Everest.

Tourism ministry officials here estimate that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at the base camp when Nepal’s worst earthquake in 80 years yesterday noon triggered the avalanche on Everest. The quake also shook neighbouring India and China.

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