At least nine climbers, including five South Korean nationals, died after a massive storm struck their base camp on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a mountain of 7,913 metres, the expedition organiser said on Saturday.
Five South Korean climbers, including team leader Kim Chang-ho from ‘Koreanway Gurja Himal Expedition 2018’, were killed along with their four Nepali support staff in the incident, said Wangchu Sherpa, the Managing Director at Trekking Camp Nepal.
The unexpected violent snowstorm buried the climbers at the base camp at an altitude of 3,500 metres near the south face of Mount Dhaulagiri in western Nepal’s Myagdi district on Friday evening, said Sherpa.
Other deceased South Koreans have been identified as Lee Jaehun, Rim Il-jin, Yoo Youngjik, and Jeong Joon-mo, the Nepal media reported.
A mountain expedition of five South Korean nationals and four foreigners were swept off by strong winds at the base camp during their climb to Mount Gurja. (They) fell off a cliff and died," the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement.
According to reports, the organisers raised an alarm after the group (climbers) were out of contact for nearly 24 hours.
The bodies of eight climbers, including four Korean nationals, were spotted by a rescue team on Saturday morning, however icy conditions and powerful storms hamperered the search operations.
Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart. The conditions were too icy to continue the search," pilot Siddartha Gurung, who among the first reached at the wreckage told reporters.
According to official, they (climbers) had gone to scale the mountain from Gurja Village on October 7.
A heavy snowstorm followed by a landslide buried the base camp at an altitude of 3,500 metres when the climbers were awaiting for a fair weather to move towards higher camps, they said.
The Mount Gurja storm is the deadliest mountaineering incident to hit the Himalayan nation since 2015 Mount Everest’s avalanche triggered by a powerful earthquake, killing at least 18 people.
(With inputs from agencies)