Seventeen bodies have been recovered at the base camp on Mount Everest where hundreds of climbers are stranded after an earthquake in Nepal on Saturday triggered an avalanche on the world\’s highest peak, a mountaineering official said.
The first injured were helicoptered out in the morning, Romanian climber Alex Gavan tweeted from base camp.
"All badly injured heli evacuated," Gavan said. "Caring for those needing. want sleep."
Twenty-two climbers had been ferried to a lower altitude, from where the first 18 would be evacuated to Kathmandu by a heavy helicopter that took off from the capital\’s airport in the morning after heavy clouds cleared.
The avalanche swept down Everest, burying part of base camp as climbers gathered near the main route to the summit at the beginning of the climbing season in the deadliest incident on the mountain.
U.S. climber John Reiter said dozens of people had suffered critical injuries, many of them with head injuries. "It\’s been a rough 18 hours," he told CNN.
Seventeen bodies were recovered after part of Everest base camp was engulfed by the snowslide, Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told Reuters. Sixty-one people were injured.
One of those killed was Dan Fredinburg, a Google engineer based in California. He suffered head injuries when the avalanche hit, according to a statement from the mountaineering company that had taken him to base camp."We pray too for all those who have lost their lives in one of the greatest tragedies ever to hit this Himalayan nation," Jagged Globe said.Tourism ministry officials estimated that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at base camp or on the ascent to the peak when the earthquake struck.At Everest camps 1 and 2, above base camp, 100 climbers and guides were safe but were unable to descend because of damage to a route through the treacherous Khumbu icefalls, Sherpa told Reuters.
In a second tweet, Gavan said that climber Willie Benegas had be helicoptered up to camp 1 to bring ropes, ice screws and snow pickets to climbers trapped there.
April is one of the most popular times to scale the 8,850-metre (29,035 foot) peak before rain and clouds cloak it at the end of May. Almost exactly a year ago, an avalanche killed 16 Nepali guides in what had been the single deadliest day on the mountain.
Saturday\’s 7.9-magnitude quake was the strongest to hit Nepal for 81 years. It also shook neighbouring India, China and Bangladesh. Early on Sunday, the official death toll stood at more than 1,800 people in Nepal.Nick Farr, an Australian climber of The Everest Academy and Trek Climb Ski Nepal, said efforts to find out the situation at base camp were being hindered by poor phone coverage."Nothing is being received out of there at the moment," he said.
Steve Moffat, a mountain guide and operations coordinator for New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants, said two Nepali staff had been killed when the avalanche tore through base camp.
A further 31 staff and climbing clients – including two from the United States, five from New Zealand and one each from Australia, Italy and Iceland – were safe but stranded at Camp 1, further up the mountain.
"The first stage and the first priority is to get them down to base camp. We don\’t know if it\’s going to be possible to get them down and out through the Khumbu Icefall or whether we will need to chopper them out," Moffat said from New Zealand.
SOURCE – REUTERS