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SKorean climbers and 4 Nepalese guides missing in storm

15 October 2018

The group included renowned climber Kim Chang-ho, the first South Korean to scale 14 of the world's highest mountains without an oxygen tank.

All nine members of a South Korean climbing expedition were confirmed dead Saturday after a violent snowstorm devastated their camp on Nepal's Mount Gurja, one of the deadliest mountaineering accidents to the Himalayan nation in recent years. "(They) fell off a cliff and died", the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The group, five South Koreans and their four Nepali guides, were trying to ascend Mount Gurja, a 7,193m (23,599ft) peak.

A heavy snowstorm followed by a landslide buried the base camp at an altitude of 3,500 metres when the climbers were awaiting for a fair weather to move towards higher camps, he said. The other South Korean climbers who died have been identified as Lee Jaehun, Rim Il-jin, Yoo Youngjik, and Jeong Joon-mo.

Rescue officials tried to send a second helicopter to the site yesterday afternoon, but it was unable to fly owing to strong winds, police spokesman Sailesh Thapa told AFP.

The previous year, an avalanche above Everest's base camp killed 16 Nepalese Sherpa guides.

The team had injuries, including head wounds and broken bones, consistent with being hit by strong winds, but rescuers say it most likely caused by the powerful downblast from an avalanche, not a storm.

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So, rather than cremate the five bodies, the Korean Embassy in Nepal and the Nepalese government are planning to embalm the bodies and transport them to Korea.

The storm prevented two rescue helicopters from landing at base camp, but the pilots also spotted the bodies from the air, the Associated Press reports.

The storm swept the camp on Friday night, and news of the destruction reached on Saturday morning.

Relatives and friends broke down in tears as the bodies were carried out from the choppers after they landed outside a hospital in Kathmandu.

According to the Himalayan Database, no-one has stood on Gurja's summit since 1996.

'(A recovery team) could see the bodies of the climbers scattered near the camp'.

Rarely-climbed Gurja lies in Nepal's Annapurna region, next to avalanche-prone Dhaulagiri - the world's seventh highest mountain.

SKorean climbers and 4 Nepalese guides missing in storm