Violent snowstorm kills climbers on Nepal's Mount Gurja

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest and the autumn climbing season is now at its peak. — Reuters pic

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest and the autumn climbing season is now at its peak. — Reuters pic

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.

A fifth South Korean climber was initially reported missing, but officials later confirmed that he was at the camp when the deadly storm hit Friday and is believed to have also perished.

A rescue helicopter sent to the site was unable to land because of poor visibility but the pilot was able to see the area had been devastated.

The Korean expedition team, led by Kim Chang-ho, was comprised of six members, but one of them stayed at the foot of the 7,193-meter mountain due to health issues. The other South Korean climbers who died have been identified as Lee Jaehun, Rim Il-jin, Yoo Youngjik, and Jeong Joon-mo.

Police officials say the remote area is hard to reach by foot and locals are still looking for the remaining climber yet to be recovered.

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.

"Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart".




Friday's storm was the deadliest incident in Nepal's mountaineering industry since 18 people were killed at Mount Everest base camp in 2015 in an avalanche triggered by a powerful natural disaster.

Rarely-climbed Gurja lies in Nepal's Annapurna region, next to avalanche-prone Dhaulagiri - the world's seventh highest mountain.

According to the Himalayan Database, no-one has stood on Gurja's summit since 1996.

The South Korean team were planning to scale the mountain via a never-climbed route, according to the Korean Alpine Federation.

No climber has reached its summit for more than 20 years.

Powerful winds and snow swept through Nepal's Mount Gurja killing the entire team of nine climbers.

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