An avalanche in Nepal has claimed the lives of at least nine climbers on one of the world’s most deadly peaks, with at least six more climbers still missing.
A group of around 25 climbers was near the top of Mount Manaslu (26,759 feet high) when they were hit by a wall of snow on Saturday night, reports The Associated Free Press.
The incident was one of the deadliest tragedies in Himalayan mountaineering in recent years. Ang Tshering Sherpa, vice-president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association spoke with expedition members at Manaslu’s base camp by satellite phone, saying:
“Most of the dead people are French. One or two are Spanish, one Italian, one (Nepali) Sherpa and one German.”
Basanta Bahadur Kunwar, the local deputy superintendent of police added that 13 people were rescued alive by nightfall on Saturday. Five of them were airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment.
France’s national union of mountain guides (SNGM) released a statement saying that four French climbers were killed in the avalanche, with three others reported missing. SNGM’s vice-president Christian Trommsdorff added:
“According to information from the base camp, there were seven French victims. The four dead have been identified by their photos and three are missing, as well as two injured who have been evacuated by helicopter to Kathmandu.”
The Huffington Post notes that the bodies of a Nepalese guide and a German man have been recovered from the site, while rescue pilots have spotted seven other bodies on the slopes of the mountain.
Saturday’s Nepal avalanche hit climbers at a camp at 22,960 feet early in the morning as they were preparing their final ascent to the summit. A total of 231 climbers and guides were on the mountain at the time, but not all of them were at the higher camps.
The incident took place at the beginning of Nepal’s autumn mountaineering season. The autumn season is not as favored as the spring season, because of unpredictable weather conditions. Nepal is home to eight of the 14 highest peaks in the world, with Mount Manaslu coming in at number eight in the world.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the Nepal avalanche on Saturday, which killed at least nine people.