Asia

Himalayas avalanche sweeps away climbers in Nepal

  • 23 September 2012
  • From the section Asia
Nepalese rescuers help a foreigner injured on Mount Manaslu, 23 September
Image caption Injured climbers were flown to safety by helicopter

At least nine people have been killed and several are missing in Nepal after an avalanche hit climbers and guides at a camp on a Himalayan peak.

The bodies of a German and a Nepalese guide have been recovered from the slopes of Mount Manaslu, police say.

A further seven bodies have been sighted by rescue pilots. Spanish foreign ministry officials say one of the dead is a Spanish national.

The avalanche struck a base camp near the summit on Saturday, police said.

It is thought at least three other climbers are missing in the avalanche, but officials are trying to determine exactly how many people were in the climbing party.

At least five climbers were said by police officials to have survived and been rescued and flown to hospitals by rescue helicopters.

Four of the dead and three of the missing were French, the vice-president of the French mountain guides' union Christian Trommsdorff told the AFP news agency.

Two of those rescued were also French nationals, according to Mr Trommsdorff.

'Flood of snow'

Deteriorating weather conditions meant it was impossible to continue air searches of the mountain on Sunday, police official Basanta Bahadur Kuwar told the Associated Press.

The climbers were caught at 7,000m (22,960ft) as they were preparing to head toward the summit, which is 8,156m high.

"The avalanche hit camp three of the Manaslu peak... resulting in a flood of snow," said Laxmi Dhakal, head of the Nepalese home ministry's disaster response division.

Hundreds of foreign climbers head every year for the Himalayas in Nepal, which has eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest.

Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world, is considered one of the most dangerous, with dozens of deaths in recent years.

The autumn climbing season began this month.