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22 May 2024

Everest toll mounts to four as rescuers find body



Rescuers on Everest found the body of a missing Indian climber on Monday, taking the toll from a deadly weekend on the world's highest peak to four.

Three other climbers died on Everest over the weekend, one of the deadliest episodes since an avalanche swept through base camp two years ago, killing 18. All the fatalities appear to be related to altitude sickness.

Indian climber Ravi Kumar, 27, reached the summit on Saturday but lost contact shortly after. His Nepali guide managed to reach Camp 4, just below 8,000 metres, but sustained severe frostbite.  

"A search and rescue team have seen his body," Thupden Sherpa of Arun Treks and Expeditions told AFP.    Sherpa said that Kumar's body was spotted about 200 metres (650 feet) from the main route and the team was assessing the feasibility of retrieving it.

An American doctor Roland Yearwood and Slovak climber Vladimir Strba both perished on Sunday above the 8,000 metre mark - an area known as the mountain's "death zone" where the thin air heightens the risk of altitude sickness.

An Australian climber died on the Tibet side of the mountain, local media reported, quoting the Tibet Mountaineering Association.

The 54-year-old from Queensland was reportedly hit by altitude sickness after reaching 7,500 metres and died as he was trying to descend. His name has not yet been officially released.

- Ongoing climbs -More than a dozen climbers have been rescued from the 8,848 metre (29,030 foot) mountain in the last three days after running into difficulties on the world's highest peak, helicopter rescue operators told AFP.

The season has been marked by strong winds and unusually cold temperatures, the weather calmed over the weekend, opening a narrow window for climbers to make a bid for the top.

Despite the large numbers crowding towards the peak, there have been no reports of long queues.

Over a hundred climbers are expected to attempt to summit from Nepal's south side on Monday before the weather changes in the next few days and brings strong winds, according to forecasts.

"Today there might be as many as 150 climbers reaching the top from the Nepal side, but it isn't a record number," Ang Tsering Sherpa, head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told AFP.

In 2012, 255 climbers summited from both sides of the mountain in a single day, Sherpa said.

Legendary Swiss climber Ueli Steck died in late April while on an acclimatization climb, and 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan perished in May while attempting to reclaim his title as the world's oldest person to summit Everest.

More than 120 climbers have successfully summited Everest from the south side so far this season, with another 80 reaching the peak from the Tibet side.

Hundreds are still waiting to summit before the monsoon arrives in early June, marking the end of the short spring climbing season.

Last year Everest claimed the lives of five climbers, while a total of 640 people summited from both sides of the mountain.