Violent snowstorm kills climbers on Nepal's Mount Gurja

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest and the autumn climbing season is now at its peak. — Reuters pic

Violent snowstorm kills climbers on Nepal's Mount Gurja

He said all the tents had been flattened, reduced to a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls, and the climbers' bodies were scattered across a wide area, including some in a river bed some 500 metres (1,640 feet) away from the main camp.

A fifth South Korean climber was initially reported missing, but officials have now confirmed that he was at the camp when the deadly storm hit the area on Friday and is believed to have also perished.

Wangchu Sherpa, of the Trekking Camp Nepal agency, which provided support to the climbers, said: "Our rescue operation is continuing and we are trying to find details".

The expedition was led by veteran South Korean climber Kim Chang Ho, who was the first from his country to have scaled 14 peaks higher than 8,000 metres.

"Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart", Gurung told AFP.

"The camp was completely destroyed", Myagdi district official Liladhar Adhikari told BBC News.

He said another recovery team would be sent on Sunday, weather conditions permitting.

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The group were reported missing after expedition organisers raised the alarm when they lost contact with the group for almost 24 hours.

Friday's storm was the deadliest incident in Nepal's mountaineering industry since 18 people were killed at Mount Everest base camp in 2015 in an avalanche triggered by a powerful natural disaster.

The climbers had been waiting for the bad weather to clear so they could begin their climb on the risky Himalayan peak.

Five South Korean climbers and four Nepali guides were swept off a cliff by strong winds as they waited for fairer weather before starting their ascent of Mount Gurja, a mountain of 23,599ft in west Nepal.

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

Mount Gurja sits in Nepal's Annapurna region, next to avalanche-prone Dhaulagiri, the world's seventh highest mountain. Income from foreign climbers is a major source of revenue for the cash-strapped nation.

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