Asia

Manaslu avalanche: Search resumes for missing climbers

  • 24 September 2012
  • From the section Asia

A search operation has resumed in Nepal for climbers missing on Mount Manaslu, where an avalanche killed at least eight people on Sunday.

Poor weather had forced the suspension of earlier rescue efforts.

Eight bodies and 10 injured people have been flown to the capital, Kathmandu, a local police officer told the BBC. He said three people were still missing.

Police said the group was camped near the summit when it was hit by a wall of snow in the early hours of Sunday.

Basanta Bahadur Kunwar, a police officer in the western district of Gorkha, earlier told the BBC one injured person flown to Kathmandu might have died, but this has not yet been verified.

Of the eight killed, four are French, one is Italian, one Spanish, one German and one is a Nepali national, said Surendra Sapkota, chief of the mountaineering division at the Nepalese tourism ministry.

Their names have yet to be officially disclosed.

The French foreign ministry has confirmed four French deaths.

Three people - two French and one Canadian national - are still missing, said Mr Kunwar.

He said that, on Sunday and Monday, helicopters airlifted 10 injured people, who are currently receiving treatment in Kathmandu.

According to Mr Kunwar, there were 29 people on the mountain when the avalanche swept them away early on Sunday.

"There are eight people with minor injuries that are left on the mountain now," he told the BBC. "We are told they are fine, [and that] they are searching for those missing."

He said rescue helicopters would be called in as soon as there was progress in locating the missing.

'Flood of snow'

There had been confusion earlier about the numbers and nationalities of the dead and injured as multiple trekking agencies were involved in the disaster.

One survivor, Glen Plake, was quoted as saying that "there were 25 tents at Camp 3 and all of them were destroyed; 12 tents at Camp 2 were banged up and moved around".

Mr Plake said he had lost a few front teeth and had an eye injury after being swept 300 metres down the mountain, according to Trey Cook, the editor-in-chief of EpicTV.com, which makes adventure sports films.

Deteriorating weather conditions meant it was impossible to continue air searches of the mountain on Sunday.

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

"The avalanche hit Camp 3 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.

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