Nine climbers missing on Nepal's Mount Gurja after storm hits camp

Nine climbers missing on Nepal's Mount Gurja after storm hits camp

Nine climbers missing on Nepal's Mount Gurja after storm hits camp

Kim is believed to be among the dead, officials said.

Kathmandu - Five South Korean climbers and three Nepalese guides are feared dead after a snowstorm tore apart their base camp at Mount Gurja in western Nepal, police said Saturday.

Mr. Thapa said a ninth climber may also be missing.

A rescue helicopter at the scene confirmed seeing eight bodies in the ruins of the camp, but was unable to stay due to bad weather conditions.

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"The fact that they were so low when it happened is unusual", said experienced German climber Billi Bierling, who was forced to call off her own summit bid on Dhaulagiri last month because of heavy snowfall and high winds.

Wangchu Sherpa, head of the Trekking Camp Nepal agency that provided local support to the South Korean team, said the camp had been destroyed, citing reports from the pilot of the rescue helicopter sent to look for the missing group.

A police team heading toward the base camp on foot is unlikely to reach the site until Sunday.

The base camp, which is at least one-day's trek from the nearest village, is at 3,500m (11,483ft), on the 7,193m-high mountain.

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Kim Chang-ho, the fastest person to climb the world's 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen, is among the dead.

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

Thousands of climbers flock to Nepal each year - home to eight of the world's 14 highest peaks - creating a lucrative mountain tourism industry that is a vital source of cash for the impoverished country.

Nepal is in peak climbing season at present after the end of monsoon season.

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