11 dead in Everest avalanche, 3 more bodies expected: rescuer
KATHMANDU - Agence France-Presse
In this photograph taken on May 23, 2013, unidentified mountaineers look out from the summit of Mount Everest. AFP PhotoAt least eleven Nepalese climbing guides have been killed after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday, a rescue team official told AFP, in the worst accident to hit the world's highest peak.
"I have seen 11 bodies brought to the base camp, we have been told to expect three more," Lakpa Sherpa from the non-profit Himalayan Rescue Association told AFP by telephone from Everest basecamp.
The avalanche occurred at around 6:45 am (0100 GMT) at an altitude of about 5,800 metres (19,000 feet) in an area known as the "popcorn field" which lies on the route into the treacherous Khumbu icefall.
Kathmandu-based mountaineering expert Elizabeth Hawley, considered the world's leading authority on Himalayan climbing, said the avalanche was the most deadly single accident in the history of modern mountaineering on the peak.
In 1996, eight people from two expeditions were killed, said Hawley, in a tragedy immortalised in the best-selling book "Into Thin Air".
The accident underscores the huge risks taken by sherpa guides, who carry tents, bring food supplies, repair ladders and fix ropes to help foreign climbers summit the 8,848 metre (29,029 foot) peak successfully.
More than 300 people have died on Everest since the first successful summit by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.