Published: Sun, October 14, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Snowstorm kills at least eight climbers on Nepal peak

Snowstorm kills at least eight climbers on Nepal peak

Five South Korean climbers and four Nepalese guides were missing on Gurja Himal mountain after a strong storm swept through their base camp, officials and expedition organizers said Saturday.

The permit listed four South Korean climbers, but a fifth member had joined the team later, according to Suresh Dakal of Trekking Camp Nepal, the expedition organiser.

Earlier, a police spokesman had said a helicopter pilot saw eight bodies scattered across the mountain.

South Korea's foreign ministry said it is closely cooperating with the Nepalese government for the retrieval of the bodies.

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"Base camp looks like a bomb went off", said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a US-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

He added: 'Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart'.

A team that reached the site at 3 500 metres above sea level found seven bodies, Bir Bahadur Budha, deputy superintendent of police in Myagdi district, said.

Despite not being as high as other Himalayan mountains in Nepal, Mount Gurja has seen only a fraction of the climbers of the world's highest peak, Mount Everest.

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Nugroho reiterated that the official search for bodies will end Thursday with prayers in hard-hit neighbourhoods. Almost 90,000 people were displaced by the disaster, many sheltering in tents outside their destroyed homes.

The climbers had been waiting for the bad weather to clear so they could begin their climb on the risky Himalayan peak.

Then in October that year, a blizzard killed more than 40 tourists and their guides in the Annapurna region, a disaster that was largely blamed on poor weather forecasting and lacklustre safety standards in Nepal's poorly regulated trekking industry.

Kim Chang-ho, who climbed the 14 highest mountains in the world in the fastest time in 2013, was one of the climbers who died.

Gurja was first summited in 1969 by a Japanese team but no one has stood on its summit for 22 years, according to the Himalayan Database.

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Only 30 people have successfully climbed to its peak compared with more the than 8,000 people who have reached the summit of the world's highest mountain, Everest.

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