15 thought dead in Everest avalanche

Six local guides have been killed and nine more are missing after an avalanche swept a route used to scale the world’s highest peak, a Nepalese tourism official said.

The avalanche hit just below Mount Everest Camp 2 around 6.30am local time, Krishna Lamsal said.

He added that four bodies have been recovered and rescuers are digging two more out of the snow. Nine other Sherpa guides are unaccounted for and believed to be buried in the snow.

All those killed and missing had gone early in the morning to the area to fix ropes for climbers along the route to the 29,000ft summit.

Hundreds of climbers and guides have gathered at the base camp, gearing up for their final attempt to scale Everest early next month when weather conditions get favourable.

The area where the avalanche occurred – at 21,000ft – is nicknamed the “popcorn field”.

Nepal had earlier announced several steps this year to help manage the flow of climbers, minimise congestion and speed up rescue operations. The preparations included the dispatch of officials and security personnel to the base camp at 17,380ft, 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 of others have died in the attempt.

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