Choppers rescue Everest avalanche victims

2015-04-26 09:15
(Image: AFP)

(Image: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mount Everest - Helicopters airlifted injured climbers off Mount Everest on Sunday after an avalanche killed at least 17 people, as images of the disaster showed a terrifying cloud of snow roaring towards the base camp.

Six helicopters landed at the base camp in Nepal, the agency's Kathmandu bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly reported after weather conditions improved overnight.

"People are being carried out on stretchers as choppers land - half a dozen this morning," Kannampilly said in a text message.

"Weather clear, some snowfall."

Pictures showed an enormous cloud of snow and debris cascading down the mountain as survivors recalled the horrifying moment that disaster struck on Saturday.

Issues permits

"I ran and it just flattened me. I tried to get up and it flattened me again," said Singapore-based marine biologist George Foulsham.

"I couldn't breathe and I thought I was dead. When I finally stood up, I couldn't believe it passed me over and I was almost untouched."

A spokesperson for Nepal's tourism department, which issues the permits to climb the world's tallest mountain, said the death toll had risen to 17 and could increase further.

"Seventeen have been reported dead so far and 61 are injured," said Tulsi Gautam.

"Those who are able are walking down. Others are being airlifted to Pheriche."

Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal mountaineering association, confirmed that 17 people were known to have died and more than 60 injured.

"We don't know their nationalities but most of them would be foreigners," Sherpa said.

He said that there were more than 800 people at different places when the avalanche, triggered by a massive earthquake, struck on Saturday lunchtime.

Many had travelled to Nepal for the start of the annual climbing season, which was cancelled last year after 16 Sherpa guides were killed in what was previously the deadliest disaster in the mountain's history.

Alex Gavan, a Romanian climber, said on Twitter that "all badly injured heli evacuated".

Response efforts

Ropes, ice screws and snow pickets were being flown to a large number of climbers trapped above the treacherous Khumbu icefall which was the scene of last year's disaster, he added.

Snowfalls on Saturday had thwarted efforts to airlift survivors before the skies cleared on Sunday morning.

Google executive Dan Fredinburg was among the handful of victims to have been identified so far.

He was with several colleagues who survived the tragedy, Lawrence You, director of privacy at Google, said in a blog post.

"Sadly, we lost one of our own in this tragedy. Dan Fredinburg, a long-time member of the Privacy organization... was in Nepal with three other Googlers, hiking Mount Everest. He has passed away," You wrote.

"The other three Googlers with him are safe and we are working to get them home quickly."

You said was contributing $1m to the response efforts.

US-based Madison Mountaineering said its doctor Marisa Eve Girawong had died in the avalanche.

"Eve perished in the aftermath of the avalanche that struck the base camp area following the devastating Nepal earthquake earlier today," the company said in a statement.

Ladders broken

The earthquake dislodged a "huge block of ice" above base camp which sparked a "huge aerosol avalanche" that slammed into the upper section of base camp, blowing tents across the mountain, another team said on its website, adding that its climbers were uninjured.

Kanchaman Tamang, a Nepali cook who was working for the Jagged Globe tour group said the latest tragedy was particularly painful coming so soon after last year's deaths.

"I was in the dining tent when the avalanche hit - it sent the tent flying," he said.

"After last year's avalanche, I never worried about coming back - I told my family I work at base camp and it's safe, not like icefall.

"The season is over - the route has been destroyed, icefall ladders broken.

"I don't think I will come back next year - this mountain means too much pain"

Read more on:    nepal  |  earthquakes  |  nepal earthquake  |  natural disasters

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

6 myths about male cancer
Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.