• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: DIRECTV Customers: Tell DIRECTV to bring back KTVA - Call 800-531-5000. - Read More
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

    Inside the Gates: Military family posts daily vlogs

    by Bonney Bowman on Feb 24, 23:36

    One Alaska family is making reality TV a real life part of their daily routine. The Cassells, a military family stationed at Fort Wainwright, post daily video blogs, or vlogs, on YouTube. “The first year I was like, extremely nervous,” said mom and U.S. Army wife Kiara Cassell. Her days usually start with coffee, cooking […]

  • ‘I’m going to protect what I got’: Elderly Fairview man robbed 3 times in a month

    by Eric Ruble on Feb 24, 23:24

    A 71-year-old Fairview man said thieves robbed him at his home three times between Jan. 19 and Feb. 20. Lee Perkins has lived in an apartment on Karluk Street for about one year. He said during the first incident, a man knocked on his door asking for a cigarette. When Perkins turned around, the man […]

  • Politics

    Cook Inlet conservation corridor debated at Board of Fisheries meeting

    by Shannon Ballard on Feb 24, 19:51

    It takes fish to make fish and that has members of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s Fish and Wildlife Commission worried. On Friday morning, commission members brought their concerns to the Board of Fisheries. They want to ensure that the Cook Inlet conservation corridor, established back in 2014, remains in place. The corridor restricts some commercial fishing in […]

  • News

    Fur Rondy provides winter fun for locals and visitors

    by Heather Hintze on Feb 24, 19:38

    Are you ready to Rondy? The 2017 Fur Rendezvous winter festival kicked off Friday afternoon. Many who live in Alaska don’t find it unusual to take a Ferris wheel ride in the freezing cold, or run with reindeer through the streets of Anchorage. For people in the Lower 48, Fur Rondy is a chance to see […]

  • Body cam shows use of deadly force by Fairbanks officer, no criminal charges filed

    by Sierra Starks on Feb 24, 18:40

    In an unprecedented move, the Fairbanks Police Department have released body camera footage of an August 2016 incident during which a sergeant shot and killed an armed man. James Robert Richards, 28, was shot twice in the head after assaulting two people at the Alaska Motel and leading police on a chase through downtown Fairbanks, according to the […]

  • News

    Half a million Little Tikes swings recalled following reports of injuries

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 24, 16:11

    More than half a million Little Tikes swings have been recalled after a number of injuries were reported, according to a notice on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) website. The recall notice states that Little Tikes has received more than 140 reports of the 2-in-1 Snug’n Secure pink toddler swings breaking. Of those […]

  • Politics

    Dozens demand town hall meeting with Sen. Sullivan during annual address to lawmakers

    by Liz Raines on Feb 24, 15:25

    A group of about 50 people gathered in front of the state capitol building in Juneau to demand a town hall meeting with Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan Friday afternoon. Sullivan was in Juneau to deliver an annual address to lawmakers on his work in Congress. In his speech, the Republican senator did not reference the […]

  • News

    Addicts using pets to score drugs, veterinarians warn

    by Jennifer Earl / CBS News on Feb 24, 15:18

    As animal lovers, veterinarians pride themselves on being trusting and caring people. They don’t want to believe anyone would intentionally hurt their pet, but in recent years, they’ve had to train themselves to look out for those who do just that as drug addicts turn toward animals to score pain medication they can’t easily access. […]