HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
GORKHA: At least nine mountaineers were killed and more than 18 injured in an avalanche at the Third Base Camp of the 8,156-metre Mt Manaslu at an altitude of 6,600 metres in Gorkha’s Samagaun this morning. More than 50 persons were sleeping at the Third Camp when the incident occurred around 3.00am.
The deceased have been identified as French nationals Ludo Challeat, Fabrice Priez, Cathrine Ricard and Philippe Bos, Canadian citizen Domique Ouimet, Spanish citizens Marti Gasull and Cristine Mittermeyer, Italian citizen Alberto Magliano and Dawa Sherpa, a Nepali. Claude Belmsas, Thomas Grenier, Ralf Rieske, Andreas Reiter and Arnaud Manel were injured in the incident and were airlifted to Kathmandu. Two French nationals, Remy Lecluse and Gregory Costa, have been missing.
Bodies of two of the deceased have been sent to Kathmandu. DSP Kuwar said five of the injured were airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment. He added that they could not launch rescue operation due to bad weather.
Five choppers belonging to Simrik, Dynastic, Fishtail and Mountain Air were deployed for the rescue operation. Local Bir Bahadur Lama of Gorkha’s Samagaun said the exact number of missing and survivors was yet to be ascertained.
Siddhartha Jhung Gurung, a pilot involved in the rescue operation, told our correspondent in Kathmandu that 16 survivors and two bodies were airlifted from the accident site to the base camp. The rescue operation will start again tomorrow at 6 am, added Gurung.
The Associated Press adds that it is the beginning of Nepal’s autumn mountaineering season. The autumn season comes right after the end of the monsoon rains, which make weather conditions unpredictable, and is not as popular among mountaineers as the spring season, when hundreds of climbers crowd the high Himalayan peaks.