At least eleven Nepalese climbing guides have been killed after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday , in the worst accident to hit the world's highest peak.
HERE ARE 10 DEVELOPMENTS IN THIS STORY:
- An avalanche struck a party of Nepalese climbing guides on Friday morning.
- The disaster has struck at the beginning of the main climbing season on the most popular route to the mountain's peak .
- The Sherpa guides who died had gone early in the morning to fix ropes for hundreds of climbers when the avalanche hit them just below Camp 2 about 6:30 a.m., said Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal, speaking from the base camp where he is monitoring the rescue efforts.
- Hundreds of climbers, their guides and support guides had gathered at the base camp, gearing up for attempts to scale the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak early next month when weather conditions become favorable. Ahead of that, they have been setting up camps at higher altitudes and guides have been fixing routes and ropes on the slopes above.
- As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers and fellow climbers rushed to help. A helicopter was also sent from Katmandu.
- Earlier this year, Nepal announced several steps to better manage the flow of climbers, minimise congestion and speed up rescue operations.
- Preparations included the dispatch of officials and security personnel to the base camp located at 5,300 metres (17,380 feet), where they would stay throughout the spring climbing season that ends in May.
- More than 4,000 climbers have scaled the summit since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds have died attempting to climb the mountain.
- The worst recorded disaster on Everest was on May 11, 1996, when eight climbers were killed in one day because of a snow storm in areas near the summit. Six Nepalese guides were also killed in an avalanche in 1970.
- The climbing season usually ends in late May when rainy season wind and cloud pushes up from the south to cloak the Himalayas.
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