KATHMANDU: At least 12 mountaineering support staff were killed and four others went missing when the deadliest avalanche swept down a slope of the Mount Everest near Camp I in Khumbu Icefall this morning. Six Sherpa guides were also injured in the accident.
According to mountaineering officials stationed at the base camp, avalanche hit a group of more than 60 support staff and guides, mostly Sherpas, at 5,900m when they were heading towards Camps I and II carrying necessary equipment and logistics for the Everest climbers at around 6:30am.
Krishna Lamsal, Under Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, said 12 bodies had been recovered from the site and brought to the base camp. Four guides – three from Seven Summit Treks and one from Shangri-La Nepal Treks – are missing. Among the six injured, three have been airlifted to Kathmandu while the rest are undergoing treatment at a medical centre run by the Himalayan Rescue Association at the base camp. “Injured are in a critical condition,” sources at the concerned trekking agencies said.
Managing Director of Shangri-La Nepal Treks Jiban Ghimire said 10 Sherpa guides from his company were on their way to Camp I to aid NBC Everest Expedition that was set to conduct a much awaited wing-suite descent live from top of the world, when the incident occurred.
Among the deceased, nine are residents of Solukhumbu, while others are from Taplejung and Sankhuwasabha district. The victims were part of seven expeditions of five trekking companies, he said, adding that a Nepali Army helicopter and private choppers were used to rescue the victims and a few climbers trapped above the avalanche site.
Following the incident, relatives and locals gathered at the base camp to acquire update throughout the day.
Lamsal added that climbing activities were suspended for a day and search for the missing will continue tomorrow as well.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the natural disaster relief committee chaired by Deputy PM and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam has decided to provide Rs 40,000 each to the families of the victims who lost their lives in the incident.
The ministry in a press statement said security personnel, icefall doctors and mountain rescuers have been mobilised for rescue operation.
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Accidents on world’s highest peak