Avalanche in Nepal kills at least nine climbers


AN AVALANCHE killed climbers and destroyed their camps on the world’s eighth-highest mountain in northwestern Nepal on Sunday, killing at least nine people, according to police.

A former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, Ang Tshering Sherpa, said most of the dead climbers were French and others were from Italy, Germany and Spain.

French news channel BFM TV reported that four of those killed on Mount Manaslu were French, citing a mountain climber.

Nepalese officials confirmed earlier that the dead included climbers from Nepal, Germany and Spain, and they said four people were missing. Five injured climbers were rescued by helicopters and flown to the capital Kathmandu.

German climber Andreas Reitero (26) said he was sleeping in his tent when the avalanche struck at about 4am local time (12.15am Irish time) yesterday.

His camp was about 7,000m (22,965ft) above sea level. “It was a big sound. I was afraid,” said Reitero from hospital in Kathmandu after being rescued by helicopter from the mountain, 100km northwest of the capital.

“I was so confused that I can’t say how far I was swept away or how many people were there in the camp at the time of avalanche,” said the climber, who is being treated for a back injury.

“I had luck. I did not go far enough and was outside . . . not buried under snow.”

Reitero was one in a group of 13 climbers – 11 Germans and two Austrians. One German member of the group died, he added.

A French foreign ministry spokesman would not confirm any deaths, but said “at least three” French climbers were injured.

Police inspector Basant Mishra said the bodies of a German climber and a Nepali guide were recovered from the snow on the 8,163m mountain.

“Rescue pilots have spotted seven other bodies on the mountain,” said Insp Mishra. Sources at the Spanish foreign ministry said one of the dead climbers was Spanish.

The altitude at which the accident occurred made it difficult for rescue teams to reach the scene.

Helicopters were dispatched to the remote area to search for those missing after the early morning incident, but cloud and fog were complicating rescue efforts, said Insp Mishra.

Hundreds of foreign climbers flock every year to Himalayan peaks in Nepal, which has eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest. September marks the beginning of the autumn climbing season, which runs through November.

In the last major accident, at least 42 people including 17 foreigners, were killed in heavy snowfall in the Mount Everest region in 1995. – (Reuters)