Kathmandu: At least 22 climbers have died and 217 others were missing near the base camp of Mt Everest where hundreds of climbers, including many foreigners, are stranded after an avalanche was triggered by the earthquake.
This picture taken by AFP photographer Roberto Schmidt shows an enormous cloud of snow and debris cascading down towards Everest Base Camp, moments ahead of flattening part of the camp in the Himalayas on Saturday
More than 60 climbers were injured and many foreign adventurers, hikers and guides at the base camp were feared missing when the avalanche buried a section of the mountaineering camp.
While 17 people were killed at the base camp, five more casualties were reported yesterday from areas below the base camp, Home Ministry officials said. “Tents have been blown away,” Gelu Sherpa, who was at the camp when disaster struck, said, adding, “There is a lot of confusion on the mountain.”
Thirty-two people have been rescued from the region till now. Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Tourism Ministry, said they were airlifted by five rescue helicopters. Twenty-two of the most seriously injured climbers were yesterday ferried by helicopters, including from the Indian Air Force, to Pheriche village, the nearest medical facility, though bad weather is hampering rescue and relief operations.
Another 54-year-old Indian attempting to climb all the highest peaks in the seven continents, is stuck at Camp II on Everest along with 11 other fellow climbers. Ankur Bahl, part of the Madison Group, had moved to Camp II from Camp I yesterday but is now stranded.
Tourism ministry officials estimate that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at the base camp when Nepal’s worst earthquake in 80 years on Saturday noon triggered the avalanche on Everest.
Army rescues 61
An Indian army expedition team has rescued over 61 climbers from Mount Everest while it retrieved 19 bodies.
The Army team was training at Base Camp when the earthquake struck. Their equipment was buried in the avalanche. However, the team was safe and helped in rescue efforts.
As part of the overall relief effort for Nepal, the Indian Army has launched Operation Maitri. Army chief General Dalbir Singh, who is an officer of the Gurkha Rifles Regiment is also the Honorary Chief of the Nepalese Army.