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9 climbers killed, 6 missing in Nepal avalanche

A climber injured in the avalanche, center, is rescued at the base camp of Mount Manaslu in northern Nepal on Sunday. Nepalese police say at least 10 survived being hit, but many were hurt.

Associated Press

A climber injured in the avalanche, center, is rescued at the base camp of Mount Manaslu in northern Nepal on Sunday. Nepalese police say at least 10 survived being hit, but many were hurt.

KATMANDU, Nepal — An avalanche hit climbers on a high Himalayan peak in Nepal on Sunday, leaving at least nine dead and six others missing, officials said. Many of the climbers were French or German.

Police official Basanta Bahadur Kunwar said that the bodies of a Nepalese guide and a German man were recovered and that rescue pilots had spotted seven other bodies on the slopes of Mount Manaslu in northern Nepal, the eighth-highest mountain in the world.

Spain's Foreign Ministry said one of the killed climbers was Spanish but did not release the person's identity. The identities of the other victims were still being confirmed.

Ten other climbers survived the avalanche, but many were injured and flown to hospitals by rescue helicopters, Kunwar said.

Rescue pilot Pasang, who uses only one name, said three injured French citizens and two Germans had been transported to hospitals in Katmandu. He said rescuers were also attempting to bring the bodies back to the base camp.

Weather conditions were deteriorating and it was not possible to continue air searches of the mountain Sunday afternoon, Kunwar said.

Officials were investigating the cause of the avalanche on Sunday.

The avalanche hit the climbers at a camp at 22,960 feet early in the morning as they were preparing to head toward the summit, which is 26,760 feet high.

There were Italian, German and French teams on the mountain with a total of 231 climbers and guides, but not all were at the higher camps, officials said.

It is currently the beginning of Nepal's autumn mountaineering season. The autumn season directly follows the end of the monsoon rains, which make weather conditions unpredictable. Thus, the fall season is not as popular among mountaineers as the spring season, when hundreds of climbers crowd the high Himalayan peaks.

Nepal has eight of the 14 highest peaks in the world.

Climbers have complained in recent years that climbing conditions have deteriorated and risks of accidents have increased.

9 climbers killed, 6 missing in Nepal avalanche 09/23/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 23, 2012 9:51pm]
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