• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 11s

Mount Everest avalanche is its worst disaster ever

By CBS/AP 2:36 PM April 18, 2014
KATMANDU, Nepal –

An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving four missing in the deadliest disaster on the world’s highest peak. Several more were injured.

The Sherpa guides had gone to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche struck an area known as the “popcorn field” for its bulging chunks of ice at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp, where he was monitoring rescue efforts.

An injured survivor told his relatives the path up the mountain was unstable just before the avalanche struck at an elevation just below 21,000 feet. As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help.

“It took out many of the ladders, so this has now trapped over 100 climbers above the collapse, and also no one can climb below it,” Alan Arnette, an experienced climber who has scaled Everest four times, told CBS News. “So, basically, Everest has come to a complete stop at this point, and I’m sure many of the teams are reevaluating exactly how they want to move forward.”

Rescue workers pulled out 12 bodies from under mounds of snow and ice and were searching for the four missing guides, Lamsal said. Officials had earlier said three were missing.

Four survivors were injured badly enough to require airlifting to a hospital in Katmandu. One arrived during the day, and three taken to the foothill town of Lukla could be evacuated Saturday. Others with less serious injuries were being treated at base camp.

The avalanche struck ahead of the peak climbing season, when hundreds of climbers, guides and support crews were at Everest’s base camp preparing to climb to the summit when weather conditions are at their most favorable early next month. They had been setting up camps at higher altitudes, and guides were fixing routes and ropes on the slopes above.

The wall of snow and ice hit just below Camp 2, which sits at an elevation of 21,000 feet on the 29,036-foot mountain, said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

One injured guide, Dawa Tashi, lay in the intensive care unit at Grande Hospital in the capital late Friday after being evacuated from the mountain. Doctors said he suffered several broken ribs and would be in the hospital for a few days.

Tashi told his visiting relatives that the Sherpa guides woke up early and were on their way to fix ropes to the higher camps but were delayed because of the unsteady path. Suddenly the avalanche fell on the group and buried many of them, according to Tashi’s sister-in-law Dawa Yanju.

The Sherpa people are one of the main ethnic groups in Nepal’s alpine region, and many make their living as climbing guides on Everest and other Himalayan peaks.

More than 4,000 climbers have summited Everest since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds have died attempting to reach the peak.

The worst recorded disaster on Everest had been a fierce blizzard on May 11, 1996, that caused the deaths of eight climbers, including famed mountaineer Rob Hall, and was later memorialized in a book, “Into Thin Air,” by Jon Krakauer. Six Nepalese guides were killed in an avalanche in 1970.

Earlier this year, Nepal announced several steps to better manage the heavy flow of climbers and speed up rescue operations. The steps included the dispatch of officials and security personnel to the base camp at 17,380 feet, where they will stay throughout the spring climbing season that ends in May.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Latest Stories

  • News

    Bullet strikes Juneau school bus carrying 4, shatters window

    by Associated Press on Aug 25, 10:08

    A Juneau school bus carrying two students and two adults was struck by a bullet Wednesday afternoon. The bullet shattered a bus window. No one was injured and the suspected shooter told police he didn’t know the gun was loaded. Besides the driver, the bus carried two students and an adult aide shortly before 4 […]

  • News

    Multiple crashes causing delays on the inbound Glenn Highway

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Aug 25, 7:34

    A crash near Eagle River is causing major delays on the inbound side of the Glenn Highway Thursday morning, according to Anchorage police. A separate two vehicle crash reported near Artillery Road on the inbound side of the Glenn has since been cleared, according to Anita Shell, Anchorage Police Department spokesperson. No injuries were reported […]

  • Lifestyle

    Mylan says it will expand programs that lower EpiPen costs

    by Associated Press on Aug 25, 6:38

    Mylan, now in the crosshairs over severe price hikes for its EpiPen, says it will expand programs that lower out-of-pocket costs by as much as half. Mylan N.V. said Thursday that the patient cost will be reduced through a savings card that will cover up to $300 for an EpiPen 2-Pak. The company said it’s […]

  • News

    Kenai Peninsula Borough will continue invocations following appeal to Satan

    by Associated Press on Aug 25, 6:33

    The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has decided to continue allowing religious groups to offer invocations at its meetings after an invocation from a member of the Satanic Temple prompted a call for change. Iris Fontana encouraged attendees of an Aug. 9 meeting to “embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the tree of knowledge.” She […]

  • Lifestyle

    What not to say to help your teen lose weight

    by Ashley Welch / CBS News on Aug 24, 21:50

    If you want your teen to lose weight, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some advice: Don’t tell them that. Doing so may raise their risk of developing unhealthy habits or even an eating disorder, the AAP states in new recommendations published online this week. “The focus should be on a healthy lifestyle rather than on weight,” the […]

  • News

    Italy earthquake described as ‘Dante’s Inferno’ kills dozens

    by CBS/AP on Aug 24, 21:46

    Rescue crews using bulldozers and their bare hands raced to dig out survivors from a strong earthquake that reduced three central Italian towns to rubble Wednesday. The death toll stood at 159, but the number of dead and missing was uncertain given the thousands of vacationers in the area for summer’s final days. Residents wakened […]

  • News

    District hopes new approach to active shooter will save young lives

    by Lauren Maxwell on Aug 24, 21:28

    The Anchorage School District is changing the way it would respond if an active shooter entered a school, according to Superintendent Deena Paramo. Paramo is hoping the new advice for students and staff will help save lives in an emergency situation. Paramo said up until this point, the district has always used a lockdown approach. […]

  • News

    President Obama honors 4 Alaska teachers

    by Shannon Ballard on Aug 24, 20:30

    The White House is honoring more than 200 math and science teachers, including four from Alaska: · Catherine Walker - Romig Middle School, Science · Joey Jigliotti - Rogers Park Elementary School, Science · MaryLee Tung - Sand Lake Elementary School, Mathematics · Christopher Benshoof - Lathrop High School, Mathematics The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the highest […]