Snow­storm kills nine climbers on Nepal peak

The Star Malaysia - - World -

KATHMANDU: Nine mem­bers of a South Korean climb­ing ex­pe­di­tion were killed af­ter a vi­o­lent snow­storm swept them off a cliff on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, one of the dead­li­est moun­taineer­ing ac­ci­dents to hit the Hi­malayan na­tion in re­cent years.

The bod­ies of eight climbers – four South Kore­ans and four Nepali guides – were spot­ted near the wreck­age of their camp by a res­cue team yes­ter­day, but strong winds were ham­per­ing the search ef­fort.

A fifth South Korean climber was ini­tially re­ported miss­ing, but of­fi­cials have now con­firmed that he was at the camp when the deadly storm hit Fri­day and is be­lieved to have also per­ished.

“A moun­tain ex­pe­di­tion of five South Korean na­tion­als and four for­eign­ers were swept off by strong winds at the base camp dur­ing their climb to Mount Gurja.

“(They) fell off a cliff and died,” the South Korean for­eign min­istry said in a state­ment.

He­li­copter pi­lot Sid­dartha Gu­rung was among the first peo­ple to reach the site af­ter the deadly storm and de­scribed a scene of to­tal de­struc­tion.

He said all the tents had been flat­tened, re­duced to a tan­gled mess of tar­pau­lin and bro­ken polls, and the climbers’ bod­ies were scat­tered across a wide area, in­clud­ing some in a river bed some 500 me­tres (1,640 feet) away from the main camp.

“Ev­ery­thing is gone, all the tents are blown apart,” said Gu­rung.

Gu­rung landed a he­li­copter just above the ex­pe­di­tion team’s camp and at­tempted to de­scend to the camp­site with a group of lo­cal vil­lagers, but icy and un­sta­ble con­di­tions meant they were un­able to re­trieve any of the bod­ies.

Res­cue of­fi­cials tried to send a sec­ond he­li­copter to the site yes­ter­day but it was un­able to fly due to strong winds, po­lice spokesman Sailesh Tha­p­a­told re­porters.

An­other at­tempt will be made to­day, he added.

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